21-year-old Jack Teixeira who was allegedly involved in the Pentagon leaks has been accused of violating the Espionage Act and has been charged with two separate counts.
The first count pertains to the unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information that could potentially harm the United States or benefit a foreign nation. The second count refers to the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material.
Teixeira appeared in a federal court in Boston on Friday to answer to the charges. If he is found guilty of both charges, he could face up to 15 years in prison, as reported by MSN.
According to court documents, Teixeira searched for the word “leak” in classified intelligence reporting using his government computer on April 6, 2023.
“The first public reporting regarding the Government Information appeared on or around April 6, 2023. Accordingly, there is reason to believe that Texeira was searching for classified reporting regarding the US Intelligence Community’s assessment of the identity of the individual who transmitted classified national defense information to include the Government Document,” it says.
After a weeklong investigation into the leaking of confidential government records online, Teixeira was apprehended by heavily armed federal agents outside his home in North Dighton, Massachusetts on Thursday.
The charges against Teixeira stem from allegations that he accessed highly classified materials through his guardsman position and shared them with members of a private Discord chat group under his authority earlier this year.
The classified materials, which contained battlefield information pertaining to the conflict in Ukraine, were subsequently disseminated on various social media platforms and quickly went viral.
On Friday, Teixeira refrained from entering a formal plea during the court proceedings and responded quietly he was informed of his right by the judge.
As the hearing took place, Teixeira’s father shouted, “I love you, Jack.” Although Teixeira did not turn around, he responded by stating, “I love you Dad,” as per Fox News.
An internal document obtained by the network reveals that Teixeira’s security clearance and access to government systems have been withdrawn in the aftermath of his arrest.
An affidavit unsealed on Friday revealed Discord’s billing records and an interview with another user who helped the FBI identify Teixeira as the suspected leaker.
The unnamed user disclosed to the authorities that a Discord username linked to Teixeira began posting classified information in December. Initially, Teixeira typed out the documents to share with his online acquaintances. However, as he became concerned about being caught transcribing text in the workplace, he began taking the documents home and photographing them, the affidavit stated.
A person who belonged to Teixeira’s Discord channel told the New York Times that he made a poignant last call to his friends before being apprehended. In the call, he said he, “never wanted it to get like this. I prayed to God that this would never happen. And I prayed and prayed and prayed. Only God can decide what happens from now on.”
Teixeira enlisted in the National Guard in September 2019 as a Cyber Transport Systems Journeyman. As part of his role, he was responsible for maintaining hardware for military communication networks, such as cabling and hubs.