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16 Jun, 2023 01:47

Pentagon leak suspect indicted

National Guard airman Jack Teixeira has been charged with illegal transmission of secret documents
Pentagon leak suspect indicted

The US Air National Guardsman accused of posting a trove of classified material online, Jack Teixeira, has been charged on six federal counts, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.

A federal grand jury opted to indict the 21-year-old soldier for the willful retention of national defense information, after he allegedly shared documents marked top secret to the Discord chat platform starting sometime last year.

“Jack Teixeira was entrusted by the United States government with access to classified national defense information – including information that reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to national security if shared,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement, adding that the leak “endangered our national security.”

A member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Teixeira was granted a top-secret security clearance in 2021 and is alleged to have illicitly accessed a wide range of sensitive files, among them dozens of pages related to US military assistance to Ukraine. 

The documents allegedly leaked by the suspect revealed that US and NATO special forces were active in Ukraine, that estimated Ukrainian casualties were higher than publicly acknowledged by US officials, that Kiev’s forces were low on ammunition, and that the US has spied on its allies throughout the conflict. American officials have dismissed many of the files as fake or doctored.

Following Teixeira’s arrest by the FBI in April, the Pentagon scrambled to determine the full scope of the leak, with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin noting that senior officials did not become aware of the breach until weeks after the fact. He said he was only briefed on the issue on April 6, after media outlets began reporting on the contents of the documents.

Pentagon Deputy Press Secretary Sabrina Singh later said the military did not know the total number of documents shared online, and even months later news agencies have continued to report on new files.  

Teixeira remains in federal custody as he awaits his court proceedings, having been denied a request for release after prosecutors deemed him a flight risk. Each of his six charges carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, according to the DOJ.