Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard accused of leaking classified Pentagon documents online, is expected back in court Thursday for a detention hearing.
Teixeira was formally charged on April 14 with unauthorized detention and transmission of national defense information, as well as unauthorized removal of classified information and defense materials related to dozens of leaked classified Pentagon documents. He faces these charges under the Espionage Act.
He was arrested by the FBI a day earlier in connection with the leak of the dozens of classified documents, after it was revealed by an online friend of his, without stating his real name, that he’d initially leaked the documents within his small chat group on the Discord platform that’s popular with gamers.
Today’s hearing will decide whether he’ll be kept in jail during the duration of his case.
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors said Teixeira should remain behind bars because he poses a flight risk, and the government is still contending with the amount of information that they say he stole. They allege he viewed hundreds of classified documents which he may still have access to. According to prosecutors Teixeira conducted hundreds of keyword searches “in what appears to be a deliberate effort to disseminate this country’s secrets.”
“The Defendant knows where the information is,” prosecutors wrote in a preview of their arguments. “He knows how to access it. And based on his specialized IT skills, he presumably knows how to disseminate that information without being immediately noticed.”
In short, the prosecutors say “there is nothing a court can do” to ensure Teixeira’s compliance with the conditions of his release other than to take him at his word.
Teixeira joined the Air National Guard in September 2019 and worked as a cybersecurity systems journeyman as part of 102nd Intelligence Wing based on Cape Cod, a position in which he held the highest level of security clearance granted by the federal government for top secret information.
In an interview published in The Washington Post on April 12, the alleged leaker’s online friend, without naming Teixeira, said he’d shared documents among an invite-only Discord chat group that consisted of about two dozen people, mostly men and boys.
The friend said that while using language that was filled with acronyms and jargon, the leaker claimed to have brought the documents home from his job at a “military base,” and that he had worked for hours to write up the classified documents to share with those in the Discord group to keep them “in the loop.”
The Pentagon now has limited access to classified materials in the wake of the leak, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has directed a 45-day review of the handling of classified intelligence across in the Defense Department.
Pentagon press secretary Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder has also said the Defense Department was reviewing “the scope and impact” of the leaked documents, which reveal U.S. spying not just on its adversaries but also on allies.
The National Security Council has said that at least some of the leaked documents appear to be doctored or contain false information.