US Air Force
Facebook has been rocked by the arrest of a 21-year-old US Air Force National Guard employee, Jack Teixeira, for the leak of sensitive US defence and intelligence documents. The arrest took place at his family home in Dighton, a town of 8,000 people located an hour south of Boston. Video footage shows Mr Teixeira walking backwards towards armed FBI officers with his hands raised, before being handcuffed and led away.
The New York Times used interviews and social media clues to identify Mr Teixeira as the leader of an online gaming chat group where the files were leaked. The documents revealed sensitive intelligence about the war in Ukraine and other countries around the world. It is believed that at least 50, but potentially more than 100 classified documents were posted on Discord – a social media platform popular with gamers.
The documents contained a range of intelligence assessments about the war in Ukraine, as well as sensitive intelligence about countries around the world, including US allies. The FBI said in a statement that the arrest happened “without incident” and that agents were continuing to investigate at the home.
The Washington Post published an interview with one of the members of the chat room where the documents initially appeared. He described the leaker as a young, charismatic gun enthusiast in his early to mid-20s who works at an unnamed military base. The Post reported that the man was the leader of a Discord chat room including roughly two dozen members who swapped “memes, offensive jokes and idle chitchat” and prayed and watched movies together.
The members included people from Russia and Ukraine and a number of other countries in Europe, Asia and South America. In some cases, the documents were altered to increase Ukrainian casualty counts before being posted on other Discord servers, including ones dedicated to the game Minecraft and a Filipino YouTuber. They were also posted on the fringe message board 4chan and on the Telegram chat app, particularly on pro-Russia channels.
The Pentagon is continuing to work to “understand the scope, scale and impact of these leaks.” US President Joe Biden said while on a trip to Ireland that investigators were close to finding the person who leaked the documents. He told reporters: “There’s a full blown investigation going on, as you know, with the intelligence community and the Justice Department, and they’re getting close.”