Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira warned about mishandling classified info: prosecutors


The Air National Guardsman accused of one of the most significant intelligence leaks in years was warned repeatedly by superiors about his handling of classified information, prosecutors said Wednesday, alleging that he may have shared sensitive secrets with people outside the United States.

Justice Department lawyers made the court filings to urge a judge to keep Jack Teixeira behind bars before his trial, with a second hearing on the subject scheduled for Friday.

Teixeira, 21, an airman first class who was assigned to the 102nd Intelligence Wing, is accused of leaking top-secret Pentagon documents on Discord, a social media platform primarily used by online gamers. The case has sparked furor internationally, leading to questions about America’s ability to guard its secrets.

Teixeira, who has not entered a plea, was arrested April 13 and could face a prison sentence upward of 25 years if convicted, previous court filings by the prosecution have said.

In September, six months before his detention, Teixeira was seen “taking notes on classified intelligence information” before putting the notes into his pocket, according to an Air Force memo written at the time, submitted to the court by prosecutors Wednesday.

Teixeira’s superiors asked him if he intended to share the notes, before telling him at a meeting to “no longer take notes in any form on classified intelligence information,” the memo said.

A month later, another Air Force memo said the airman had failed to do this, “potentially ignoring the cease-and-desist order on deep diving into intelligence information” when he asked “very specific questions” during an internal briefing. He was told to focus on his job, it said.

Finally in February, a colleague saw Teixeira operating a machine connected to the Department of Defense’s Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System, its internal system for sharing confidential information, a third Air Force memo said. He was seen “viewing content that was not related to his primary duty” and was instead “related to the intelligence field,” it said.

Prosecutors have previously called the defendant “a serious flight risk,” and warned that a “foreign adversary” could try to help him escape the United States and give him safe haven.

Last month, a federal judge declined to immediately free him from custody, but did not rule on the matter.

Teixeira’s lawyers made their own submission of documents Wednesday, providing a list of eight defendants involved in other Espionage Act cases where courts have approved their pretrial release.

Teixeira should not be compared with Edward Snowden, the exiled American who stole classified information from the National Security Agency, as the prosecution has sought to do, the defense team said. Snowden “fled the country” before his arrest and was already in China at the time of his leak, it said, having “orchestrated a coordinated plan to seek asylum in other countries,” it said.

The defense has also said there is no allegation he ever intended for documents to be distributed widely.

In response to this, the prosecution said that there were 150 users on the server where Teixeira is alleged to have shared his information, and it “now may have many more users that are actively seeking access to classified information,” their memo said.

“Among the individuals with whom the Defendant shared government information are a number of individuals who represented that they resided in other countries and who logged on to the social media platform using foreign IP addresses.”

In messages, Teixeira bragged about the scope of information he had access to, writing, “The information I give here is less than half of what’s available,” prosecutors said. He also acknowledged he wasn’t supposed to be sharing the information, prosecutors said, writing in another message, “All of the s—- I’ve told you guys I’m not supposed to,” according to the Justice Department’s filing.

Teixeira is charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and with unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or materials, according to court records. Prosecutors have called this “an incredibly large and damaging dissemination of classified national defense information” that could be used by American adversaries against it.

The Associated Press and Josh Cradduck contributed.

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