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‘Pentagon Whistleblower’ Jack Teixeira indicted on six federal charges | Crime News

A U.S. Air National Guard member has been charged with six federal counts for leaking classified military documents on the social media platform Discord.

Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old man based in Massachusetts, faces six counts of retaining and transmitting sensitive national defense information, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

The Justice Department announced the charges on Thursday, underscoring the breach of trust and national security represented by Teixeira’s alleged leaks.

“Individuals who receive security clearances are entrusted with protecting classified information and protecting our nation’s secrets,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “The allegations in today’s indictment reveal the seriousness of that trust. Violation.”

Teixeira has been in federal custody since his April 13 arrest. But the fact that U.S. national security secrets have been disseminated via online chat rooms is a black eye for the federal government — which has strained relations with allies and risks exposing military secrets.

The charging documents describe how Teixeira first joined the Air National Guard in September 2019 and received a top-secret security clearance until 2021.

But shortly thereafter, around January 2022, the Justice Department charged that Teixeira began accessing, copying, and posting sensitive information to share with Discord, an online community frequented by gamers.

The charging document explained that Teixeira either transcribed the classified information himself or took photographs of the recording and posted it online.

The information included sensitive details about Ukraine’s efforts to repel a full-scale Russian invasion in February 2022. The allegedly leaked documents include details about Ukrainian air defenses, casualties, updates on U.S. aid and documents on Russian espionage.

The records also revealed intelligence related to U.S. military interests in other parts of the world.

For example, some documents appear to indicate that the United States has been spying on security officials in South Korea and pressured its president, Yoon Hee-yeol, to supply ammunition to Ukraine. That sparked an outcry from some South Korean politicians, who accused the United States of violating their national sovereignty.

“Individuals who are granted access to classified material have a fundamental responsibility to protect the information security of the United States, our service members, American citizens and their allies,” Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy said in Thursday’s statement.

But as Teixeira emerged as a suspect in the leaked documents, people began to question how the 21-year-old had access to so much information and seemed so free.

The Justice Department document said Teixeira was reprimanded twice in September and October for “relevant actions” he took while handling classified information.

An Air Force memo dated Sept. 15 relayed how a superior officer “observed that Teixeira was recording classified intelligence information.” When Teixeira “put the note in his pocket,” the superior asked him if he planned to tear it up. They met to discuss the incident, and Teixeira was “instructed not to take notes of any kind.”

But by the next month, an Oct. 27 memo revealed that his superiors believed Teixeira “may have disregarded a cease-and-desist order to investigate further intelligence information.”

After his arrest in North Dayton, Mass., in April, defense attorneys urged the 21-year-old to be released to his father.

But given Teixeira’s alleged “serious violations” — and his credibility being questioned — U.S. District Judge David Hennessy ruled in May that he will remain in custody until trial.

Hennessy suggested Teixeira may have been a flight risk. “The foreign country knew this defendant was disloyal to the United States,” Hennessy said. He also cited Teixeira’s “obsession with guns” and comments online that were tinged with conspiracy theories and threatening language.

Thursday’s indictment came on the last day the U.S. government must file formal charges: Prosecutors must file charges within 30 days of Teixeira’s arrest.

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