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Fine for Navy Seals who disclosing classified information to the makers of a video game


They are the best of the best: members of the elite Special Forces unit which killed Osama Bin Laden, rescued aid worker Jessica Buchanan, and liberated Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama from the clutches of Somali pirates.

Fame does not always sit comfortably with the demands of top-secret counter-terrorism work, though. It emerged that seven members of the US Navy's SEAL Team Six have been disciplined for disclosing classified information to the makers of a video game.

The unnamed SEALs, who include at least one member of the group which carried out last year's daring helicopter raid on Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan, were caught acting as paid consultants to the maker of a video game called: "Medal of Honor: Warfighter."

Their duties included talking to the game's designers, at the company Electronic Arts, about the tactics SEALS employ in the field. They are also said to have allowed production staff to examine some of the supposedly secret equipment that they carry on raids.

The consulting work was not cleared by military superiors, and appears to breach non-disclosure agreements the men have signed. As a result, they were sent a formal letter of reprimand this week, and will forfeit two months' pay.

"We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as sailors in the United States Navy," Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli, of Naval Special Warfare Command, told the Associated Press. He said two other SEALs were under investigation for "co-operation" with Electronic Arts.

News of the sanctions comes two months after it emerged that Matt Bissonnette, a retired SEAL who was among the team which killed the leader of al-Qa'ida, had written a memoir about the raid. The Pentagon has accused him of illegally releasing classified information. Litigation surrounding the book, No Easy Day, is ongoing.

Critics of the punishments point out that the makers of two forthcoming Hollywood movies about SEAL Team Six have received help from the Pentagon, and other members of the unit were allowed to star in the summer movie Act of Valor.