The United States has charged an Air National Guardsman with unauthorized transmission and retention of classified documents in a massive leak that revealed various intelligence secrets, including maps, intelligence updates and an assessment of Russia’s war in Ukraine.
Jack Teixeira, 21, made his first appearance Friday in federal court in Boston after being arrested for allegedly accessing and disseminating classified national defense information. He faces at least 15 years in prison if convicted of the charges. Teixeira, who was denied bail, pleaded not guilty and was assigned a public defender. He is scheduled for another hearing in Boston on Wednesday.
The leak of dozens of pages of documents has been described as one of the most damaging and embarrassing information leaks of the decade. The documents were shared in a small group on the text and video chat app Discord before being picked up and shared more widely on the Telegram messaging service, where international news outlets took notice for the first time.
As President Joe Biden sought to downplay the seriousness of the leak, experts and former officials said it was a massive exposure that highlighted not just up-to-the-minute assessments of the war from Russia to Ukraine, but also how the United States gathers intelligence about the world.
Teixeira wore beige prison coats and showed no emotion when the judge read the charges. His parents were seated in the front row. They exchanged a brief greeting as he was handcuffed and led away.
According to an FBI affidavit released Friday, Teixeira unlawfully preserved and disseminated material classified at the TS//SCI level, which is the highest classification level.
He reportedly began posting text of classified information in a chat room on social media website Discord in December, which was later followed by photos of classified information, including “a document describing the state of the Russian conflict -Ukrainian, including troop movements, on a particular date,” according to the affidavit.
Teixeira told a chat room user “he was worried he would be caught doing text transcriptions in the workplace, so he started taking the documents home and photographing them,” according to the affidavit.
Social media site Discord, which was not identified by name in the affidavit, provided records to the FBI after being ordered by a court to do so.
The case is US v. Teixeira, 23-mj-04293, US District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).