Seven members of the Navy SEAL Team 6 have been disciplined by the U.S. Navy for disclosing classified information to video game developer Danger Close Games and publisher Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: EA) for their military shooter “Medal of Honor: Warfighter.”
CBS reported that The SEALS, including one involved in the Osama bin Laden mission, have received punitive letters of reprimand and lost half of their pay for the next two months. While they remain on active duty, both CBS and Fox News suggested the infraction could lead to their termination.
“The SEALs have gone Hollywood, but it could cost those who worked on the video game their careers,” CBS said.
The Washington Post stated more cautiously than other reports that the kind of disciplinary actions that the SEALs received “generally hinder a military member’s career.”
It remains unclear what information, exactly, the SEALs team provided either EA or developer Danger Close Games during the development of “Warfighter.” But EA has long marketed “Warfighter” as a meticulously researched and supremely “realistic” first person shooter. Promotional material for the game called “Warfighter” the “most the authentic military shooter this year,” a not-too-subtle jab at the wildly popular “Call of Duty” franchise produced by EA’s chief rival, Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI).
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“We do not tolerate deviations from the policies that govern who we are and what we do as sailors in the United States Navy,” Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli, deputy commander of Naval Special Warfare Command, said in a statement.
The Department of Defense added in a statement to the videogame news site Polygon that “a non-judicial punishment hearing was conducted yesterday [Wednesday], Nov. 7 and seven Naval Special Warfare (NSW) personnel faced administrative proceedings. An additional NSW investigation is ongoing to determine if more personnel may be involved.”
“They are being charged with violation of Article 92: Orders violation, misuse of command gear and violation of Article 92: Dereliction of duty, disclosure of classified material,” the statement said, suggesting that the SEALs may have shared details about their specialized weaponry with the game developers.
Prior to the game’s launch last month, EA got trapped in an another round of controversy for the game in August when critics discovered that real-world weaponry was being branded with the game’s logo and sold through the official “Warfighter” website.
EA has denied any knowledge that the veterans consulted for the game were in contact with the Department of Defense during the game’s development.
“There are no plans to recall ‘Medal of Honor: Warfighter’ from store shelves and we have no plans to alter the content contributed by combat veterans in the game,” EA said in a statement when contacted for an interview. “We have no further comments.”
Shares in Electronic Arts rose slightly on Friday, jumping as high as $13.14 in mid-morning trading.