Federal law enforcement brought charges against 21-year-old Jack Douglas Teixeira on Friday in connection to the large-scale leak of sensitive U.S. national security information on a group chat.
Following his first court appearance on Friday morning, Teixeira was detained pending a detention hearing set for April 19. Under Title 18 of the United States Code, Teixeira was charged with the unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information as well as the unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or material, revealed in an affidavit obtained by the New York Times.
Agents working within the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Teixeira, a Guardsman in the U.S. Air Force National Guard, without incident in North Dighton, Massachusetts on Thursday. Ahead of his court appearance in the District Court for the District of Massachusetts, Teixeira was arrested in connection to the “alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information,” Justice wrote.
Reports of classified U.S. defense documents being posted on a Discord server emerged last week following a New York Times exclusive. The documents disclosed classified military information regarding Russia’s war against Ukraine as well as U.S. surveillance over ally nations.
The eventual sharing of these documents outside of the initial Discord server, a messaging app popular among video gamers, prompted national attention and catalyzed a federal investigation led by the FBI, Pentagon, and Department of Justice.
“Since late last week, the FBI has aggressively pursued investigative leads, and today’s arrest exemplifies our continued commitment to identifying, pursuing, and holding accountable those who betray our country’s trust and put our national security at risk,” the FBI said in a statement.
Following Teixeira’s court appearance, lawmakers began issuing statements on the leak.
Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., commended law enforcement officials in a comment issued on Friday, suggesting that if there is sufficient evidence of malicious intent in sharing these documents, Teixeira should be charged with treason.
“This leak of classified information is a direct threat to our national security, and puts the safety of our heroic military personnel at risk,” Garcia said in a statement.
Discord is also poised to continue aiding in the effort to investigate the source and promulgation of the leaks. In a statement, a Discord spokesperson told Nextgov that it will “remain committed” to cooperating with law enforcement.
“While Discord places a premium on the privacy of our users, we believe that our platform best serves the needs of all when we collectively engage in responsible online behavior,” the spokesperson said. “Our terms of service expressly prohibit using Discord for illegal or criminal purposes, which includes the sharing of documents on Discord that may be verifiably classified.”
The software company also confirmed that they have removed users associated with the original distribution of the classified documents and deleted relevant content.