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US Secret Service on trail of Bush hacker

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Jon Swaine Washington

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A CRIMINAL inquiry is under way after personal photographs, paintings, security information and even funeral details involving former US presidents George and George W. Bush were obtained by an email hacker.

The US Secret Service is investigating how the hacker, known as Guccifer, gained access to material including pictures of the older Mr Bush in a hospital bed and the security code for a gate to one of his son's homes.

He also obtained a confidential list of home addresses, mobile phone numbers and email addresses for dozens of members of the Bush family, including the former presidents, their siblings and children. Self-portraits painted by the younger former president - two of which depict him relaxing in the bath and taking a shower - were also published on the internet by the hacker.

The material is believed to have been gleaned from messages sent between 2009 and last year and stored in six different email accounts belonging to Bush family members and their friends.

A hacked message sent last December by Jean Becker, the older Mr Bush's former chief of staff, shed light on Mr Bush's ailing health. He was being treated in hospital after having been taken ill.

''Your dad's funeral team is having an emergency meeting at 10am just to go through all the details,'' she told the 41st president's children, urging them ''not to tell your mother''.

On Boxing Day, George W. Bush emailed his siblings inviting contributions to a eulogy for their father. ''Hopefully I'm jumping the gun,'' he wrote. ''But since the feeling is that you all would rather me speak than Bubba, please help.'' ''Bubba'' is a nickname for former president Bill Clinton, who enjoys a close relationship with his White House predecessor. TELEGRAPH

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