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5 Mar, 2024 12:40

Pentagon leaker agrees to 16-year prison sentence

Air National guardsman Jack Teixeira has struck a plea deal with US prosecutors
Pentagon leaker agrees to 16-year prison sentence

Jack Teixeira, a former member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, has agreed to accept a 16-year prison term after pleading guilty to leaking hundreds of classified Pentagon documents onto a gaming server.

In an incident described as one of most serious American national security breaches in years, Teixeira “accessed and printed hundreds of classified documents” and posted images of them on the Discord gaming server, prosecutors told a Boston federal court.

The documents leaked by Teixeira included maps, satellite images, and intelligence on US allies. They revealed the presence of US special forces in Ukraine, the inadequacies of Kiev’s military as it prepared for its counteroffensive against Russian forces last summer, and US espionage targeting its allies throughout the conflict.

Teixeira, 22, started sharing the classified information in late 2022 and was arrested last April 2023. He has been held in custody since.

He accepted all six counts charging him with willful retention and transmission of national defense information, according to a court ruling on Monday.

In exchange for the plea, prosecutors agreed not to charge him with further violations of the US Espionage Act.

Teixeira’s attorney, Michael Bachrach, described his client as “very much a kid” and argued that his age had played a “significant role” in his actions, the BBC reported. Bachrach said he hoped to reduce the jail term to 11 years. Sentencing is set for September 27.

Teixeira has joined a long list of individuals prosecuted for allegedly disclosing sensitive US national security intelligence. Among the most high-profile is computer intelligence consultant Edward Snowden, who leaked highly classified information from the National Security Agency in 2013. He fled to Russia, where he was granted asylum and later citizenship.

Another example is Chelsea Manning (born Bradley Manning), the former US Army soldier jailed for disclosing thousands of classified and sensitive military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks. She was initially sentenced to 35 years in prison but had her sentence commuted to seven years and was released in 2017.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Australian citizen, has been in a UK prison since 2019. If extradited to the US, he will face criminal charges over espionage and the publication of classified information, potentially resulting in a 175-year jail term.