LONDON, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- An engineer who bought a damaged laptop on eBay for $30 says the hard drive contained unencrypted British military information from Afghanistan.
Once he discovered the files, the buyer turned the machine over to the Ministry of Defense, The Sun reported.
"It's scary. I couldn't believe it -- the laptop could have been bought by anyone," the buyer, who said the machine was listed as for "spares or repair," told the newspaper. "I realized straight away it wasn't the kind of stuff that should have been for sale on eBay. I contacted the seller to ask if he wanted a copy of the data -- but he said no."
The Toshiba belonged to Capt. Robert Sugden, a graduate of the British military academy Sandhurst who served as an equerry or personal assistant to Queen Elizabeth II for a year after his tour as a platoon commander in Afghanistan. He told investigators he thought the hard drive had been destroyed.
The buyer said the outside of the laptop looked as if someone had taken a screwdriver to it, but he found the hard drive intact. The data included a list of Afghan police command posts, helpfully given the title NATO Secret, photos and personal information about Afghan army and police recruits and the Afghan Police Tactical Handbook.