The U.S. air national guardsman suspected of leaking a trove of classified intelligence documents pertaining to national defense received two charges on Friday under the Espionage Act for allegedly posting the sensitive material online.
During his first appearance at the Boston-based Court for the District of Massachusetts, Jack Teixeira was informed of the two charges he faced: unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material. He will remain detained through the next court hearing on Wednesday.
The airman was arrested “without incident” by FBI agents Thursday afternoon at his mother’s home in North Dighton, Massachusetts, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
Teixeira enlisted in the Massachusetts Air National Guard in 2019. His job title is Cyber Transport Systems journeyman, and he has been promoted to the junior rank of Airman 1st Class. The 21-year-old man is the leader of a private online chat group where the classified documents — numbering more than 100 pages — first appeared in January.
From that point on, the material was widely circulated on a number of social media platforms, undetected by the federal government until early April.
Teixeira was granted Top Secret security clearance in 2021 and was said to have begun posting classified information online since Dec. 2022, according to an affidavit submitted by investigators.
The U.S. government has been left in an awkward position in what is believed to be potentially the worst intelligence breach in a decade, partly because the revelation made clear Washington’s deeper-than-perceived involvement in the day-to-day development of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and exposed continued U.S. spying on its allies.
Amid the embarrassing fallout of the incident, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who until April 6 had been unaware of the leak, ordered a review of the “intelligence access, accountability and control procedures” within the department.