FBI agents on Thursday arrested a 21-year-old national guard suspected of being behind a major leak of sensitive US government secrets – including about the Ukraine war.
Broadcasted live on television networks, the dramatic arrest is the culmination of a weeklong investigation – spurred by massive media coverage – into one of the leaks. The biggest leak of classified information since 2013 when Edward Snowden leaked National Security Agency documents.
Speaking at a press conference, US Attorney General Merrick Garland named the suspect as Jack Teixeira, an employee of the US Air National Guard and the alleged leader of the online chat group. where the corpus first appeared.
Garland said under arrest “in connection with an investigation into the alleged unauthorized removal, storage and transmission of classified national defense information”, Teixeira was arrested without incident by FBI agents.
News footage of the operation, in the North Dighton area of Massachusetts, shows the suspect – wearing red shorts and a T-shirt, hands behind his head – backing up slowly towards law enforcement officers in camouflage, armed with a rifle. put him in jail.
Police in this small town in the northeastern state sought to reassure the community of the large presence of law enforcement, claiming that there was “no threat to public safety”. .”
Two posts on the Facebook page of the Massachusetts National Air Force’s 102nd Intelligence Team mentioned Teixeira, including one from July 2022 stating he had been promoted to first class pilot – the third lowest enlistment rank for air force personnel.
Teixeira is expected to make her debut as early as Friday in the US District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
The Pentagon said the leak posed a “very serious” risk to US national security and spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder on Thursday condemned it as a “deliberate criminal act”. “.
In response, the Department of Defense is “checking and updating distribution lists, assessing how and where intelligence products are shared, and a host of other steps,” Ryder told journalists.
Teixeira’s arrest comes a day after The Washington Post reported hundreds of pages of documents had been posted on social media platform Discord by a man who worked on a US military base.
– Top secret documents –
According to The New York Times, a “trace of digital evidence” indicates that Teixeira was the leader of the private group on Discord, known as Thug Shaker Central, where the documents appeared.
The embarrassing security breach – including top secret documents – has highlighted US anxiety about the viability of an upcoming counterattack by Kyiv forces against the Russian military as well as the concerns about Ukraine’s air defenses, while pointing out that the United States is spying on allies including Israel and South Korea. Korea.
President Joe Biden addressed the leak during a visit to Ireland, saying he was “concerned” but that the intelligence community and the Justice Department were “closer” to identifying the source of the leak.
The alleged leaker was nicknamed “OG” and regularly posted the documents in the mentioned chat group for months.
The group of about 24 people, including some from Russia and Ukraine, bonded together out of a “shared love of guns, military equipment and God” and formed a “club just for the privileged.” invited in 2020 on Discord,” the Post reported – just as the Times cited unidentified members of Thug Shaker Central.
OG told team members he spent “some time of his day in a secure facility that banned cell phones and other electronic devices,” the Post reports.
Initially, he wrote down the contents of secret documents to share with the group, but then began taking pictures and asking other members not to share them, the newspaper reported.
OG has a “dark view of government” and “speaks of the United States, especially the law enforcement and intelligence community, as a sinister force seeking to suppress its citizens and keep them in the dark,” the Post said, citing one of the group’s members.
A Discord spokesperson told AFP that user safety is a top priority and that content that violates its policies can lead to people being banned, servers shut down and police warnings.
A spokesperson said: “Regarding the breach of classified material, we are cooperating with law enforcement.
“As this is still an active investigation, we are unable to comment further at this time.”
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from an aggregated feed.)