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Monday, April 15, 2024

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US Airman Formally Charged Over Leaking Classified Pentagon Documents

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In a court hearing in Boston, the US airman accused of disclosing secret intelligence and defence documents has been formally charged.

On Friday, Jack Teixeira, 21, appeared before a federal judge while being shackled and dressed in a prison uniform. The defendant responded, “You too, dad,” to a person in the courtroom who shouted, “Love you, Jack.”

Due to allegations of transmitting defence secrets without authorization, Teixeira may spend up to 15 years in prison. For the first charge, the airman may spend up to 10 years behind bars, and for the second, up to 5 years. He is also accused of taking out and keeping secret materials without authorization.

Numerous documents that had been leaked had revealed US assessments on the conflict in Ukraine. The leaks made US look bad and prompted new inquiries about the protection of confidential material.

At his Massachusetts home, Teixeira was taken into custody by armed FBI agents on Thursday. He is still being held.

The judge determined that the defendant is eligible for a public defender, or an attorney hired at taxpayer cost to represent those who cannot afford attorneys’ fees in a criminal prosecution.

In a statement, US President Joe Biden praised law enforcement for taking “rapid action” to look into the origin of the leaks. He claimed to have issued orders to the US military and intelligence to safeguard and restrict the release of any additional sensitive information.

The first place the stolen intelligence material surfaced was in a Discord chat group where Teixeira allegedly served as administrator. Its members would frequently talk about world politics and conflicts.

According to the affidavit FBI Special Agent Patrick Lueckenhoff submitted to the court, the suspect started uploading the stolen documents sometime in December. According to the statement, the earliest disclosures consisted of textual passages, but in January, Teixeira switched to sharing pictures of actual documents.

Pentagon officials were not made aware of the leak until intelligence data was shared outside the chat room group, which led to a hunt for the perpetrator.

At the Otis Air National Guard Base on Western Cape Cod, Teixeira worked as an IT specialist for the Massachusetts National Guard’s intelligence division.

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