WORCESTER, Mass. (AP) — The Massachusetts Air National guardsman accused of leaking highly classified military documents kept an arsenal of guns and said on social media that he would like to kill a “ton of people,” prosecutors said in arguing Thursday that 21-year-old Jack Teixeira should remain in jail for his trial.
But the judge at Teixeira's detention hearing put off an immediate decision on whether he should be kept in custody until his trial or released to home confinement or under other conditions. Teixeira was led away from the court in handcuffs, black rosary beads around his neck, pending that ruling.
The court filings raise new questions about why Teixeira had such a high security clearance and access to some of the nation's most classified secrets. They said he may still have material that hasn't been released, which could be of “tremendous value to hostile nation states that could offer him safe harbor and attempt to facilitate his escape from the United States.”
In Teixeira's detention hearing, Magistrate Judge David Hennessy expressed skepticism of defense arguments that the government hasn't shown Teixeira ever intended leaked information to be widely disseminated.
“Somebody under the age of 30 has no idea that when they put something on the internet that it could end up anywhere in this world?” the judge asked. “Seriously?”
Teixeira entered his hearing in Worcester in orange prison garb, smiling at his father in the front row. His handcuffs were removed before he sat down and put back on when he was taken out.
One possibility is that the judge could order Teixeira to be confined at his father’s home while awaiting trial, if not held in jail. Under questioning at the hearing, his father, Jack Michael Teixeira, said he was aware that if his son were to violate conditions of release or home confinement, he’d have to report him. The elder Teixeira said he owns firearms but no longer has any in his home.
"You have a young man before you who didn’t flee, has nowhere to flee,” said Brendan Kelley, the defendant's lawyer. “He will answer the charges, he will be judged by his fellow citizens”
But Nadine Pellegrini, chief of national security division in the Massachusetts U.S. attorney’s office, told the judge the information prosecutors submitted to the court about the defendant's threatening words and behavior “is not speculation, it is not hyperbole, nor is it the creation of a caricature. It is based on what we know to date ... directly based upon the words and actions of this defendant.”
The prosecution's filing contains a review of what it says are Teixeira's social media posts, stating in November that he would “kill a (expletive) ton of people” if he had his way, because it would be “culling the weak minded.”
Late Wednesday, the Air Force announced it suspended the commander of the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron where Teixeira worked and the administrative commander “overseeing the support for the unit mobilized under federal orders,” pending further investigation. It also temporarily removed each leader’s access to classified systems and information.
Court papers urging a federal judge to keep Teixeira in custody detailed a troubling history going back to high school, where he was suspended when a classmate overheard him discussing Molotov cocktails and other weapons as well as racial threats. More recently, prosecutors said, he used his government computer to research past mass shootings and standoffs with federal agents.
He remains a grave threat to national security and a flight risk, prosecutors wrote, and investigators are still trying to determine whether he kept any physical or digital copies of classified information, including files that haven’t already surfaced publicly.