WASHINGTON - A criminal inquiry was launched Friday into how a hacker appeared to breach email accounts belonging to former presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, as well as other members of their family.
"There's a criminal investigation under way," Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the elder ex-president Bush, who is now aged 88 and was recently hospitalized, told AFP, following reports that private communications had been accessed.
"I can't get into the specifics," McGrath added.
The investigative website The Smoking Gun reported that hackers had accessed several e-mail accounts and then published personal photos and private correspondence belonging to the former US leaders and their loved ones.
Separate email accounts used by prominent figures including CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, a longtime Bush family friend, and others were also breached.
The hacker apparently intercepted photos that former president George W. Bush e-mailed to his sister showing paintings that he was working on, including self-portraits of him showering and in a bathtub, the report said.
Another picture showed the elder Bush in a hospital bed, a snapshot purportedly taken by his daughter, Dorothy Bush Koch, whose AOL account was among those that was apparently hacked.
According to The Smoking Gun, six separate e-mail accounts were compromised.