Man suspected of leaking secret US documents appears in court

BOSTON, April 14 (Reuters) – A 21-year-old member of the U.S. Air National Guard accused of leaking high secret navy intelligence data on-line made his preliminary look earlier than a federal choose in Boston on Friday to face fees he unlawfully copied and transmitted categorized supplies.

Jack Douglas Teixeira of North Dighton, Massachusetts, who was arrested by closely armed FBI brokers at his residence on Thursday, appeared in a crowded federal court sporting a brown khaki jumpsuit.

At the listening to, Boston’s high federal nationwide safety prosecutor, Nadine Pellegrini, requested that Teixeira be detained pending trial, and a detention listening to was set for Wednesday. The court appointed a public defender to symbolize Teixeira.

The leaked categorized documents on the coronary heart of the investigation have been posted on-line on a social media web site in March and maybe earlier, however information of their existence didn’t come to mild till it was reported by the New York Times final week.

It is believed to be probably the most critical safety breach since greater than 700,000 documents, movies and diplomatic cables appeared on the WikiLeaks web site in 2010. In the WikiLeaks case, the leaker – U.S. Army Private First Class Chelsea Manning – was sentenced to 35 years in jail. Democratic President Barack Obama later commuted her sentence.

U.S. officers are nonetheless assessing the harm finished by the leaks, which included data exhibiting purported particulars of Ukrainian navy vulnerabilities and embarrassed Washington by revealing its spying on allies.

In a legal grievance made public on Friday, Teixeira was charged with unlawfully copying and transmitting categorized protection data. Each offense can carry as much as 10 years in jail.

He was additionally charged with one other offense which makes it a criminal offense for an worker of the United States to knowingly take away categorized data to an unauthorized location.

For now, Teixeira faces three fees in reference to only one leaked doc: a categorized report which described the standing of the Russia-Ukraine battle and included particulars about troop actions on a specific date.

Experts anticipate the costs in opposition to him will solely develop, as investigators study every doc he uploaded, verify its classification standing and determine which of them could possibly be disclosed to a jury with out gravely damaging nationwide safety.

The quantity of instances he individually uploaded and transmitted every doc is also an element in what number of fees he’ll face.

“They are going to pick the ones, I would imagine, that foreign governments have already seen,” mentioned Stephanie Siegmann, the previous National Security Chief for the U.S. Attorney’s workplace in Boston and now a companion with Hinckley Allen.

In a sworn assertion, an FBI agent mentioned Teixeira had held a high secret safety clearance since 2021, and that he additionally maintained delicate compartmented entry to different extremely categorized applications.

Since May 2022, the FBI mentioned Teixeira has been serving as an E-3/airman top notch in the U.S. Air National Guard and has been stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts.

Siegmann mentioned one lingering query is why a 21-year-old Guardsman held such a top-level safety clearance.

“That’s an issue that Department of Defense needs to now deal with,” she mentioned. “Why would he be entitled to these documents about the Russia-Ukrainian conflict?”

Teixeira solely spoke twice in the course of the temporary continuing on Friday, answering “yes” when requested whether or not he understood his proper to stay silent.

He additionally confirmed he had stuffed out a monetary affidavit, which the choose mentioned reveals he’ll qualify to be represented by a federal public defender.

After the listening to, three of Teixeira’s members of the family left the courthouse, with a bunch of reporters trailing them for a number of blocks. They entered a automobile with out making any feedback.

The Justice Department opened a proper legal probe final week into the leaked documents, after a referral from the Department of Defense. The leak was a “deliberate, criminal act,” the Pentagon mentioned on Thursday, including that the navy had taken steps to overview distribution lists and guarantee individuals receiving data had a must know.

Reuters has reviewed greater than 50 of the documents, labeled “Secret” and “Top Secret,” however has not independently verified their authenticity. The quantity of documents leaked is more likely to be over 100.

The investigative information outlet Bellingcat, the Washington Post and the New York Times have traced the documents’ earliest look to a defunct server on the moment messaging web site Discord. In a chat group on the location, Teixeira glided by the deal with OG and was admired by the group’s principally younger members, who shared a love for weapons and navy gear.

Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch in Washington and Tim McLaughlin in Boston
Editing by Don Durfee and Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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