March 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Department of Defense said it is investigating a Facebook page allegedly used by hundreds of Marines to share thousands of nude photos of their female colleagues.
Some members of the Marines United Facebook group -- which had nearly 30,000 members -- allegedly posted photographs of nude women and linked to a Google Drive account featuring more photographs. More than two dozen women in the photographs were identified by their full name, rank and military duty station. Some of the victims are on active duty, including officers and enlisted service members.
Thomas Brennan was the first to report about the images on his non-profit military news site, The War Horse.
The Naval Criminal Investigative Service launched an investigation into the Marines United page and its members. Facebook took down the page within a day after Brennan reported it to Marine Corps headquarters.
Brennan, a Purple Heart recipient, received threats against him and his family following his report. Brennan told the Marine Corps Times there is a "bounty on pictures of my daughter."
"It has been suggested that my wife should be raped as a result of this, and people are openly suggesting I should be killed," Brennan said. "Can you imagine being one of the victims?"
U.S. Defense Department officials confirmed the investigation, adding that such acts jeopardize national security and put service members at risk for blackmail.
"As a Marine veteran, I stand by the code: honor, courage and commitment," Brennan said. "This story was published with the intention of standing up for what is right and staying true to the leadership principle of looking out for Marines and their families."
Brennan's report about the Marines United page suggests some of the images were obtained through stalking of the women. Other women took the images themselves for private use but they were distributed publicly. The report says some Marines United members advocated for one woman, a secretly photographed unidentified Marine, to be sexually assaulted
The report also says the members, mostly made up of active-duty U.S. Marines, Marine Corps veterans and British Royal Marines, targeted races, religious minorities, the overweight and the LGBT community with online bullying.
"We are thankful that Thomas Brennan, a Marine veteran, notified the Marine Corps and NCIS about what he witnessed on the 'Marines United' page," Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Ryan Alvis said in a statement. "It allowed us to take immediate action to have the explicit photos taken down and to prepare to support potential victims. We are exploring what actions should be taken to best address this form of harassment in the future."