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Woman at center of Petraeus scandal, Jill Kelley sues government over breach of privacy

Jill Kelley leaves her home Monday, Nov 12, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.
Jill Kelley leaves her home Monday, Nov 12, 2012 in Tampa, Fla.Chris O'Meara/AP file

Lawyers for Jill Kelley — the Florida woman whose complaint to federal authorities about harassing emails last year led to the resignation of former CIA Director David Petraeus —  on Monday filed a lawsuit claiming the FBI and Department of Defense officials violated her privacy by failing to keep information about her role in the investigation confidential.

"One year ago, threatening e-mails shook my life and ultimately changed our country's leadership. It was under the faithful direction of our concerned military leaders that I went to the law enforcement to seek the proper protection for my family, our commanders, and top US officials. But unfortunately, we did not receive the confidentiality and protection," Kelley said in a statement provided by the lawyer representing her and her husband, Scott.

The now-infamous Tampa socialite told the FBI in May 2012 that she was receiving blackmail and extortion threats from an unknown person jealous about the relationship Kelley had with Petraeus.

Kelley's complaint to the FBI began an sprawling investigation that eventually revealed Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell had sent the emails and uncovered evidence that she had been having an affair with the four star general.

Petraeus resigned from his position as CIA director last November — and days later Kelley's name was leaked to the media.

A series of headlines ensued about the 38-year-old mother, specifically about her relationship with U.S. General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. The two exchanged numerous emails, some of which U.S. officials described as "inappropriate,"  but Allen was eventually cleared of any wrong doing and retired in February.

In an op/ed in the Washington Post in January, Kelley and her husband detailed how their inadvertent involvement in the scandal turned their lives upside down. When Kelley's name became public, the family lost all sense of privacy after a crush of media descended on her home, she wrote.

"Ours is a story of how the simple act of quietly appealing to legal authorities for advice on how to stop anonymous, harassing e-mails can result in a victim being re-victimized," the couple said.

In her statement on Monday, Kelley said they hope to set an example and strengthen procedures for future investigations.

"Our government can and should do better than intrude on the privacy and dignity of citizens like my family and yours, and our public officials should treat our personal lives with the respect that our Constitution, laws like the Privacy Act, and standards of common decency require," she said. "Until our privacy laws and practices truly give us both privacy and protection, I'll continue to advocate for reform, so others don't go through the challenges my friends and family endured."

The FBI declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing ongoing litigation. Department of Defense officials did not immediately return requests for comment.

Additional reporting by NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell