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December 1, 2023

Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira to be arraigned after federal indictment

Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira to be arraigned after federal indictment

Jack Teixeira, the 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard who has been charged with leaking classified documents, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to six federal counts.

Teixeira entered his plea in federal court at his arraignment before Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy in Worcester, a city in central Massachusetts.

Teixeira, of North Dighton, Massachusetts, was indicted last week by a federal grand jury in Boston on six counts of willful retention and transmission of national defense information.

Jack Teixeira.via Facebook

He is suspected of leaking classified Defense Department documents on Discord, a social media platform primarily used by online gamers, after he allegedly obtained them while serving as a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman.

The FBI arrested Teixeira at a residence in North Dighton, more than an hour from the base where he worked.

The classified Pentagon documents were discovered online in March, but he had been sharing them on the internet since around January, according to prosecutors.

Teixeira was arrested by FBI agents in April and has remained in federal custody since mid-May, after a judge granted a motion for detention from prosecutors who argued that he poses a flight risk.

According to the indictment, Teixeira held a top-secret security clearance starting around July 2021 and was trained in the definition of classified information, classification levels and proper handling of such materials.

“Teixeira knew that unauthorized removal of classified materials and transportation and storage of those materials in unauthorized locations risked disclosure and transmission of those materials, and therefore could endanger the national security of the United States and the safety of its citizens,” the indictment said.

Teixeira accessed classified documents, including national defense information from a classified workstation at Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, and transcribed text in the documents, which he then published on the social media platform, the indictment said.

He began sharing the documents — some classified “TOP SECRET,” “SECRET” or “Sensitive Compartmented Information” — on Discord “beginning in or around 2022 and continuing until his arrest in April,” the Justice Department said.

One of the documents he is accused of leaking included discussions about a plot by a foreign adversary to target U.S. forces abroad, prosecutors said. Another document included information about providing equipment to Ukraine and how it would be used.

They also revealed details about U.S. spying on Russia’s war efforts in Ukraine and secret assessments of Ukraine’s combat power, as well as intelligence-gathering on America’s allies, including South Korea and Israel, NBC News has reported.

Justice Department lawyers have said Teixeira was caught taking notes about classified documents and received warnings from superiors about his handling of the sensitive information, yet he was able to maintain his access to the nation’s secrets, NBC News reported in May.

Military records showed that Teixeira holds the rank of airman first class and has been in uniform since he entered the Air National Guard in September 2019. He had been based at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod and was assigned as a cyber transport systems journeyman.

If he is convicted on all six counts, he could face up to 60 years in prison and a fine of up to $1.5 million.

Rebecca Shabad

Rebecca Shabad is a politics reporter for NBC News based in Washington.

Emily Berk

Emily Berk is a producer for NBC News.

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