No, Vatican officials weren't implicated in the Ashley Madison leak

Claims that hundreds of Vatican email addresses were released in the leak were false

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The Independent Online

Following the release of the personal details of millions of Ashley Madison users, many publications jumped on the presence of what appeared to be Vatican-linked email addresses in the data dump.

As a small nation, the Vatican has it's own domain - .va - the equivalent of the UK's or France's .fr.

Overall, there were 222 addresses apparently linked to this domain in the dump, which raised concerns that church officials were using the website, which facilitates extra-marital affairs.

The idea of it does seem odd - why would a senior priest or cardinal, committed to celibacy and remaining unmarried, use a dating site for married people?


The website Prooffreader, written by David Taylor, looked further into the leaked addresses and found that, predictably, none of the 'Vatican' email addresses were even linked to the Vatican at all.


Many people in the US state of Virginia use email addresses that include the .va suffix - however, they are followed by more conventional .gov or .us endings. Someone working for the government in Virginia may have an email address that ends in

What's more, Canada's domain is .ca. It's more likely that those .va email addresses in the Ashley Madison leak were simply the mistakes of fat-fingered Canadians, or Virginians who forgot the .gov part of their email address, rather than cheating cardinals.

Millions of users of Ashley Madison had their personal details released by hackers

Prooffreader went through the email addresses and found that almost every one had a,, or .ca equivalent.

The only one that did not have an easily explainable equivalent came from a email address, but the Vatican does not actually use this domain - suggesting this one was false.