The Air National Guard member is accused of leaking military secrets on Discord chatrooms, leading to his April arrest.
A member of the United States Air National Guard accused of leaking classified military documents onto the social media platform Discord has been indicted on six federal charges.
Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old stationed in Massachusetts, faces six counts of retaining and transmitting sensitive national defence information, each of which carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to $250,000 a piece.
The US Justice Department announced the charges on Thursday, highlighting the breach in trust and national security that Teixeira’s alleged leak represented.
“Individuals granted security clearances are entrusted to protect classified information and safeguard our nation’s secrets,” said Christopher Wray, director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). “The allegations in today’s indictment reveal a serious violation of that trust.”
Teixeira has remained in federal custody since his arrest on April 13. But the revelation that US national security secrets had been disseminated through an online chatroom has proven to be a black eye for the federal government — one that has strained relations with allies and risked exposing military secrets.
The charging documents describe how Teixeira first joined the Air National Guard in September 2019, working his way up to top-secret security clearance by 2021.
But shortly thereafter, around January 2022, the Justice Department alleges Teixeira started to access, copy and publish sensitive information to share with the online community Discord, commonly frequented by gamers.
Charging documents explain that Teixeira either transcribed the classified information himself, or took pictures of the records to post online.
That information included sensitive details about Ukraine’s efforts to repel the full-scale Russian invasion launched in February 2022. Among the documents allegedly leaked were specifics about Ukraine’s air defences, casualty numbers, US aid updates and documentation about Russian espionage activities.
The records also revealed intelligence pertaining to US military interests in other parts of the world.
Some of the documents, for example, seemed to indicate that the US had been spying on security officials in South Korea and pressuring its President Yoon Suk-yeol to provide ammunition to Ukraine. That led to outcry among some South Korean politicians, who accused the US of violating their national sovereignty.
Thursday’s indictment comes on the final day the US government had to file formal charges: Prosecutors had to pursue an indictment within 30 days of Teixeira’s arrest.
This is a developing story. More updates to follow.