The State Department acknowledged for the first time Friday that “top secret” information has been found in emails that passed through the private email server Hillary Clinton used while leading the agency, elevating the issue in the presidential campaign three days before the hotly contested Iowa caucuses.

The information was contained in 22 emails, across seven email chains, that were sent or received by Clinton, according to a State Department spokesman. The emails will not be disclosed as part of an ongoing  release of Clinton’s email correspondence from her years as secretary of state, even in highly redacted form.

The finding is likely to complicate Clinton’s efforts to move past the controversy, which has dragged down her poll ratings in her bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. And it comes as her potential Republican rivals have called for Clinton to be prosecuted for what they say was her mishandling of national secrets.

In responding Friday, Clinton’s campaign took the unusual step of criticizing the intelligence community, accusing  spy agencies of engaging in “overclassification run amok.” Some Clinton allies suggested that intelligence officials were politically motivated.

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