A 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman has been hit with two federal charges under the Espionage Act for his alleged role in the Pentagon leak.
Jack Teixeira appeared in a Boston federal court on Friday and is facing 15 years in prison if convicted of illegally taking and leaking classified information and military secrets.
Fresh questions are being asked as to how Teixeira, who lived with his mother in North Dighton, Massachusetts and accused of being behind the humiliating security breach, got clearance to access sensitive documents.
Dressed in tan prison scrubs and Merrell shoes, the youthful Teixeira, with a sandy brown crew cut, scanned the courtroom as he entered in handcuffs.
Jack Teixeira, 21 appeared in a Boston federal court on Friday and is facing 15 years in prison if convicted of illegally taking and leaking classified information and military secrets
A 21-year-old US Air Force National Guard employee has been arrested over the leak of highly sensitive US defense and intelligence documents
His mother and father sat with another unidentified relative in the front row fidgeting as the rest of the courtroom filled with press.
He said nothing as he entered and sat with his hands in his lap during much of the hearing.
‘Yes, sir’ he said when Judge David Hennessey asked him if he had signed the financial affidavit submitted to the court. And ‘Yes, your honor,’ he said when the judge asked if it was accurate.
The judge informed him of the charges against him and told him his right to remain silent.
His lawyer from the Bronx Public Defenders Brendan Kelly whispered in his ear after the judge had finished.
He stood up and held out his wrists in front of him for the U.S. Marshals to put on the handcuffs. As he was led away, his father, also named Jack Teixeira, called out ‘I love you, Jack.’
He paused and turned back, looking doe-eyed at the crowd in the courtroom filled with press.
‘I love you too, Dad,’ he said.
His parents said nothing after they left the courthouse as they were followed for about three blocks by reporters asking for comment and photographers snapping photos.
A MAGA-hatted supporter with a cellphone camera chimed in among the press questions, saying, ‘This is all Joe Biden’s fault. He’s scapegoating your son,’ the man said.
Relatives of Jack Teixeira fought their way through a media scrum after seeing the 21-year-old make a brief appearance before judges to hear the charges against him
Police outside the Boston courtroom where Teixeira appeared earlier on Friday to face two charges for leaking classified US intelligence documents
The leak is the most embarrassing – and perhaps the most damaging – for the US since the WikiLeaks scandal in 2013 when National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden passed on confidential documents
Teixeira’s next hearing has been set for Wednesday, April 19, the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts said in a statement.
Attorney General Merrick Garland appeared to criticize the 21-year-old during a press briefing held earlier on Friday.
‘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,’ he said.
The leak is the most embarrassing – and perhaps the most damaging – for the US since the WikiLeaks scandal in 2013 when National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden passed on confidential documents.
According to the charge sheet, Teixeira received top security clearance in 2021 as a member of the National Guard.
The document, filed by the US government, quotes FBI special agent Patrick Lueckenhoff as saying Teixeira would have ‘signed a lifetime binding non-disclosure agreement.’
He adds the suspect ‘would have had to acknowledge that the unauthorized disclosure of protected information could result in criminal charges.’
Teixeira posted a slew of of highly classified military documents that touched upon the Ukraine war and other national security issues.
FBI investigators arrested him without incident in Dighton, Massachusetts on Thursday before bundling the 21-year-old into the back of a police van.
Teixeira posted the treasure trove of top secret files under his online user name ‘Jack the Dripper’ for months before the leak was uncovered.
He worked as a junior cyber security specialist in the intelligence unit based at the Otis Air National Guard Base in western Cape Cod.
It is believed to have started on a site called Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games.
Teixeira is believed to have posted about guns, games and top secret US government information.
The court filing lodged in Boston on Friday said that some of his fellow chatroom members reported his activities to investigators.
It alleged that the 21-year-old used his government computer to search classified intelligence reporting for the word “leak” on April 6.
That was the day when the first stories broke about the huge security breach.
Prosecutors claim he searched the term to establish whether US intelligence had information on the identity of the person behind the leaks.
Jack Teixeira faced two felony charges at the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse, in Boston, Massachusetts, on April 14, 2023. A member of the US Air Force National Guard, the 21-year-old was arrested on suspicion of leaking a trove of sensitive US government secrets.
This document appears to show the state of Ukraine’s air defenses in February and in May, when it is anticipated they’ll be badly depleted
He was identified as the ringleader of a chatroom, known as Thug Shaker Central, on Discord, an invite-only platform.
He then allegedly posted images of folded-up papers because he felt his writings weren’t being taken seriously, the Associated Press reported.
Officials at the US Justice Department have opened a probe into the 21-year-old, whose actions embarrassed US allies around the world.
Long-standing friends of Washington from Britain to South Korea and Israel slammed much of the information as bogus.
It outlined possible arms deliveries to Ukraine, as well as details of Western-led training for the Ukrainian armed forces.
But in an interview with ABC News, one of the country’s most senior military officials dismissed the leak’s impact on Kyiv’s battlefield plans.
‘This will not be able to affect the real results of the offensive operation,’ said Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence.
The country’s top spy is credited for being one of the few Ukrainian officials to correctly predict the timing of Russia’s full-scale invasion of its neighbor.
The 21-year-old’s actions have been roundly criticized by lawmakers from all political parties.
But he received support from far-right Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene, who mistakenly referred to him as ‘Jake Teixeira’ on Twitter.
In yet another unhinged social media rant, the Congresswoman representing Georgia’s 14th District claimed he was being prosecuted because of his skin color.
‘Jake Teixeira is white, male, Christian, and antiwar,’ Greene said. ‘That makes him an enemy to the Biden regime.’
The 48-year-old repeatedly parrots Kremlin talking points on Ukraine, including the entirely fictional claim that that the country is overrun with Nazis.