BOSTON: A young national guardsman was charged on Friday (Apr 14) with orchestrating the most damaging leak of United States classified documents for a decade, as the government signalled that it intends to make an example of the 21-year-old.
Jack Teixeira was arrested on Thursday following a week-long probe into the leak of documents – which revealed US concern over Ukraine’s ability to fend off Russia’s invasion, and showed that Washington has spied on allies Israel and South Korea.
It is the biggest such breach since the 2013 dump of National Security Agency documents by Edward Snowden, and raises tough questions over the access of junior official Teixeira to high-level secrets.
Teixeira, who wore a beige jumpsuit and appeared glum at his first court appearance in Boston, was charged with the “unauthorised retention and transmission of national defence information”.
He is also accused of the “unauthorised removal and retention of classified documents or material”.
The counts carry prison sentences of 10 years and five years respectively.
At one point during the short hearing, his father shouted out: “We love you, Jack.”
Teixeira responded: “Love you too, Dad.”
He was not required to enter a plea and was held pending a detention hearing set for next Wednesday.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland said there were “very serious penalties” associated with the crimes.
“People who sign agreements to be able to receive classified documents acknowledge the importance to the national security of not disclosing those documents, and we intend to send that message how important it is to our national security,” Garland added.
US President Joe Biden said on Friday that he had ordered the military and intelligence community to tighten security around sensitive information after the breach.
Teixeira is suspected of posting the documents, some dated as recently as early March, to a private chat group on the social media platform Discord.
The New York Times reported that Teixeira was the leader of the group called Thug Shaker Central and reportedly posted the documents under the nickname “OG”.
He first wrote down the contents of classified documents to share with the group, but later began taking photos, telling other members not to share them, according to the Washington Post.
Some of the documents later appeared on other sites, including Twitter, 4Chan and Telegram.