Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Sunday, December 10, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Pentagon documents leaker charged with espionage

Billing records from the online community Discord led investigators to the home of a Massachusetts air guardsman accused of leaking top secret defense intelligence to a chatroom of gamers.

BOSTON (CN) — The 21-year-old Air National Guard member suspected of leaking classified military documents to a private online chat appeared in court on Friday to face charges under the Espionage Act.

A two-count criminal complaint filed Friday charges Jack Teixeira with the unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material.

U.S. Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy ordered Teixeira held until a detention hearing next week.

FBI agents made the arrest at Teixeira's residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts, more than an hour from Air National Guard base on Cape Cod where Teixeira worked.

“FBI agents took Teixeira into custody earlier this afternoon without incident,” Attorney General Merrick Garland announced in a statement Thursday. “I want to thank the FBI, Justice Department prosecutors, and our colleagues at the Department of Defense for their diligent work on this case.”

The documents were allegedly shared in a forum on Discord, a gaming messaging platform, where members debated the war in Ukraine. The leak included pages detailing U.S. intelligence reviews of Ukrainian military capabilities made for briefing senior Pentagon officials, including information unveiling weaknesses in Kyiv’s strategy to defend itself against invading Russia.

Discord has said it was cooperating with the FBI. The platform has chatrooms that can either be both open to the public or private on invite-only “servers” in which users can share text and audio messages, video and photos.

An affidavit unsealed Friday illustrated how a trail of billing records the FBI obtained from Discord directed investigators to Teixeira, who was identified as serving as an E-3/airman first class at Otis Air National Guard Base, installation located within Joint Base Cape Cod.

A Discord user identified Teixeira in a Registry of Motor Vehicles photo from a photo lineup, the affidavit states.

According to the filing, Teixeira’s top-secret security clearance was granted in 2021.

Teixeira was represented at his initial appearance by federal public defender Joshua Hayne.

The Biden administration has been working to assess the severity of the leaked documents. President Biden, who is on a state visit to Ireland this week, told reporters that there was nothing in the leaked documents that he believed was “of great consequence” to U.S. national security interests.

Follow @jruss_jruss
Categories / Criminal, Government, National, Technology

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.