National Security

Alleged Pentagon leaker charged under Espionage Act

Jack Teixeira, the suspected leaker of hundreds of Pentagon records, was charged Friday with violating the Espionage Act and another statute that prohibits the unauthorized removal of classified documents.

Teixeira, who appeared in U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts in Boston after his Thursday arrest, did not enter a plea.

Espionage Act charges carry up to 10 years in prison.

Teixeira, 21, was arrested in connection with the posting of numerous records on “Thug Shaker Central,” a group on Discord where more than 100 classified documents on topics ranging from Ukraine to intelligence gleaned from spying on allies first appeared.

Documents dealing with intelligence on Ukraine’s battle with Russia from as far back as February had been percolating on the site before spreading to other social media platforms.

The charges for Teixeira under the Espionage Act include those for taking and copying national defense information as well as a provision of the law for willfully transmitting information that “could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of any foreign nation.”

Teixeira was also charged under a law dealing with any improper removal of classified documents.

Though a low-ranking member of the military, he served in the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, a position that came with a top secret security clearance and access to the Pentagon’s Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System.

His identity was uncovered in just a matter of days following a New York Times story detailing the existence of the documents, as well as their spread onto mainstream sites.

One detail in Teixeira’s charging documents shows that he attempted to search U.S. intelligence databases the same day the Times story broke to ascertain whether any intelligence agencies had identified the leaker.

“On April 6, 2023, TEIXEIRA used his government computer to search classified intelligence reporting for the word ‘leak,’” the documents state.

“Accordingly, there is reason to believe that TEIXEIRA was searching for classified reporting regarding the U.S. Intelligence Community’s assessment of the identity of the individual who transmitted classified national defense information.”

According to The Washington Post, Teixeira’s father yelled “Love you, Jack!” at the end of the proceedings, with Teixeira responding, “Love you, too, Dad.”

Interviews by various media outlets with members of the Thug Shaker Central group indicate Teixeira shared the information in an online forum for a group that bonded during the pandemic over an interest in guns and military gear.

Though Teixeira managed to print and share information in the closed group of 20 to 30 members since the beginning of the year without detection, some of the classified information was later shared among open groups.

That included information marked “NOFORN,” indicating it should not be shared with foreigners.

The spill of secrets has been an embarrassing revelation for the U.S., which has had to confront the leak of information about allies, including doubts about Ukraine’s air capabilities, amid its battle with Russia.

The documents also show how deeply the U.S. had penetrated Russian intelligence outlets — details the country could use to stem the flow of information the U.S. has been gathering.

—Updated at 11:43 a.m.

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