How the Feds Hunted Down the Pentagon Leak Suspect Jack Teixeira

Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who was arrested Thursday and accused of leaking classified intelligence documents, was arraigned in federal court on Friday as the FBI released new documents providing further insight into his alleged crime.

Judge David Hennessy told Teixeira he faces charges of unauthorized detention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal of classified information and defense materials. Teixeira arrived in the Massachusetts courtroom in shackles, with some family in attendance, CNN reported.

A criminal complaint and affidavit for Teixeira, obtained by The Daily Beast, confirmed a series of stories that circulated Thursday when the guardsman was taken into custody during a raid of his Massachusetts home.

The FBI alleges that Teixeira shared classified information on social media—largely sensitive information about the war between Russia and Ukraine—starting in December. That sharing continued into 2023, and allegedly included documents exposing troop movements and other information “gathered through classified sources and methods” and that “contains national defense information.”

During their investigation, the FBI interviewed a user who claimed to be a member of the same social media group as Teixeira. The affidavit did not specify if the interviewed user was a member of Teixeira’s Discord channel, Thug Shaker Central, which was where the leaked documents were allegedly shared to a group of teen boys and young men who reportedly bonded over guns, racist memes and video games.

But that user told the FBI that Teixeira had shared what appeared to be classified information with his friends. Soon enough, he was sharing documents that described troop movements and details on the Russia and Ukraine conflict, including information that was “gathered through classified sources and methods, and contains national defense information,” the affidavit states.

Teixeira appeared to be aware that what he was doing was wrong, according to a recollection of events the social media user shared with the FBI. The user said that “he had become concerned that he may be discovered making the transcriptions of text in the workplace, so he began taking the documents to his residence and photographing them.”

The FBI said that same user helped agents track down Teixeira—dishing personal details about him like that he lived in Massachusetts, went by “Jack,” and was a guardsman who worked in the intelligence wing. The FBI said it also obtained billing records from Discord that helped lead investigators to Teixeira, the affidavit said.

The feds’ investigation was spurred onward on Wednesday of this week, when the user shared more detailed records about Teixeira with the FBI, the court filing states. “These records included information related to User 1’s Social Media Platform 1 Account and the subscriber information for the administrator of Server 1 to which User 1 belonged.”

According to U.S. government agency logs of access, Teixeira accessed one government document he leaked in February of 2023, approximately one day before he posted it on the internet, the court filing states.

Teixeira also appeared to become interested in leaks after news emerged that classified information was being spread across the internet, the affidavit states. According to government monitoring of searches on its networks, Teixeira searched for the word “leak” on April 6, the same time public reporting appeared about the leak.

“Accordingly, there is reason to believe that TEIXEIRA was searching for classified reporting regarding the U.S. Intelligence Community’s assessment of the identity of the individual who transmitted classified national defense information, to include the Government Document,” the affidavit states.

The U.S. attorney assigned to the case has national security chops. Nadine Pellegrini served as one of the lead prosecutors in the six-month Boston Marathon bombing trial, U.S. v. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev. The trial leaned on thousands of exhibits, and dozens of witnesses. She is the Chief of the National Security Unit for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Massachusetts.

Teixeira’s public defender did not immediately return a request for comment. His detention hearing is set for next Wednesday, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts.

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