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Hotmail hack blamed for exposing extra-marital governor frolics

Mucky affair mails leaked by prurient hacker?

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Emails from the Argentine mistress of married South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford were leaked to the press by a hacker, according to the Latin American siren at the centre of a political scandal in the US Deep South.

The emails were obtained by South Carolina newspaper The State back in December but kept on ice while the paper investigated their authenticity. Last week Sanford's political aides confirmed that the emails were authentic, allowing the paper to publish the intimate exchange of correspondence between Sanford and the mother of two, initially identified only as Maria.

The woman, who lives in an apartment in an upmarket neighborhood of Buenos Aires, declined to speak to The State, which redacted the woman's full name and other identifying information, including her home and email address, from the published correspondence. Maria has since broken cover to claim that the emails were obtained from her Hotmail account by a hacker following speculation that either her, or a male friend who was on holiday with her in Brazil at the time the emails were exchanged last July, leaked the information.

The 41-year-old divorcee at the centre of the scandal, since identified as Maria Belen Chapur, wrote a letter to an Argentinian news outlet in what she describes as an attempt to set the record straight, Fox News reports. Maria claims her account was hacked in November, a few weeks before the emails were leaked, and she reported the issue to Hotmail at the time, who helped her to recover the account.

Maria further claims that her Hotmail account was hacked through an older Argentinian account, which she has since closed. She reckons she knows who broken into her account, but isn't saying anything just now.

Meanwhile Sanford, absent from his regular duties for a few days last week on what aides claimed was a hiking expedition while he was actually in Argentina, is facing increasing calls for his resignation as governor. He quit as chairman of the Republican Governors Association last Wednesday, after admitting the extra-marital affair. ®

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