Seven members of an elite US Navy Seal team, including one who participated in the raid that killed al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, have been reprimanded for disclosing classified material while helping produce a video game, American officials said.
All seven of the special-operations soldiers who were punished were members of Seal Team Six, according to CBS News, which first reported the reprimands. CBS said the seven worked for two days this spring and summer as paid consultants on the game.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the details of the account. A defence official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said other members of the team were still under investigation in connection with the game.
Two senior chief special operators and five chief special operators received a reprimand on Wednesday for their involvement in the production of a video game entitled Medal of Honour: Warfighter, released by gamemaker Electronic Arts, said a Navy official who spoke on condition of anonymity.
All seven were punished in an administrative proceeding for disclosing classified information and misusing command gear while working with the gamemakers, who advertise that the video game is more accurate because of the help they had from members of the special forces.
The seven each received a punitive letter of reprimand and were docked half their pay for two months, a Navy official said. A defence official said all Pentagon employees were required to follow Defence Department guidance on outside employment, a measure put into place to ensure "the highest ethical behaviour".
Rear Admiral Garry Bonelli, the deputy commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said the navy treated allegations of misconduct seriously and also enforced non-disclosure agreements signed by sailors who joined the special forces.
"We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as sailors in the United States Navy," he said in a statement after the administrative punishment was handed down.
"The non-judicial punishment decisions made today send a clear message throughout our force that we are and will be held to a high standard of accountability," he said.
The punishment of the seven active-duty Seals comes about two months after the Pentagon threatened to take legal action against former Seal Matt Bissonnette for writing an unauthorised book about the 2011 raid that killed bin Laden.
The Pentagon said the book No Easy Day, written under the pen name Mark Owen, had been published in violation of non-disclosure agreements Bissonnette signed while a Seal.
Bissonnette's lawyers and publishers said the book had been reviewed to ensure it disclosed no classified information, and that he had fulfilled his duty.