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Budget cuts at the FBI have left some agents without email accounts.

"As ridiculous as this might sound, we have real money issues right now, and the government is reluctant to give all agents and analysts dot-gov accounts," said Mark Mershon, head of the FBI's New York office, AP reports. "We just don't have the money."

Every New York agent has access to a secure internal messaging system but only three in four have email accounts that can be reached from outside the organisation.

FBI officials denied that a squeeze on spending was to blame for some agents having to operate without access to government email accounts. A Washington spokeswoman told AP that email addresses were still being handed out to New York staffers. The FBI expects to provide all 2,000 agents in its New York office with email accounts by the end of the year.

At least one US politician is unimpressed that agents don't already have access to modern communications technology. "The FBI should have the tools it needs to fight terrorism and crime in the 21st century, most of all in New York City, and one of the most effective means of communications is e-mail and the Internet," Senator Charles Schumer told AP. ®

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