The Justice Department, in a court filing ahead of Jack Teixeira’s next detention hearing, also says it found red flags in his Air Force record.
The Air National Guard member accused in a high-profile classified leaks case appears to have shared sensitive secrets with foreign nationals and had raised concern among his co-workers in the months before he was charged with mishandling and disseminating national security information, prosecutors said in a court filing Wednesday.
Jack Teixeira, 21, was arrested in April after FBI agents traced back to him a collection of classified material posted in an online chat group. Authorities say Teixeira, who worked as an IT professional at a military base in Massachusetts’s Cape Cod, misused his top secret clearance to share U.S. intelligence assessments and other sensitive information with others on Discord, a social media platform popular with video game players.
He is scheduled to appear in court Friday where U.S. magistrate judge David Hennessy plans to rule on whether Teixeira should remain behind bars while awaiting trial. In their Wednesday court filing, prosecutors offered new evidence, “which compounds the national security and public safety risks that the government previously noted to the Court,” and shows, they said, that he should not be released.
One of the groups where he shared information had upward of 150 users, officials said, and among the members “are a number of individuals who represented that they resided in other countries” and whose accounts trace back to foreign internet addresses.
Teixeira’s “willful transmission of classified information over an extended period to more than 150 users worldwide” undermines his lawyer’s claims that he never meant for the information to be shared widely, prosecutors wrote.
Teixeira’s lawyer filed court papers arguing that prosecutors have wrongly compared his conduct to high-profile leak cases from the past, when the case is more similar to lesser-known leak investigations in which defendants were released on bond.
The new filing also recounts online chats in which Teixeira appears to both brag about how much classified information he knows and has shared, and understand the potential legal consequences of such actions.
“Knowing what happens more than pretty much anyone is cool,” the airman allegedly wrote in a chat dated mid-November. When another user suggested he write a blog about the information, Teixeira replied, “making a blog would be the equivalent of what chelsea manning did,” referring to a major classified leak case in 2010.
The filing also shows that Teixeira was written up by colleagues for apparently not following rules for the use of classified systems. A Sept. 15 Air Force memorandum included in the newly released court materialsnotes that Teixiera “had been observed taking notes on classified intelligence information” inside a room specifically designed to handle sensitive classified material.
Teixeira, the Air Force memo says, was instructed “to no longer take notes in any form on classified intelligence information.” About a month later, a memo noted that Teixeira “was potentially ignoring the cease-and-desist order” given to him in September. He was instructed to stop “any deep dives into classified intelligence information and focus on his job,” that memo said.
Then in January, a member of his unit observed Teixeira “viewing content that was not related to his primary duty and was related to the intelligence field.” That memo also noted that Teixeira “had been previously notified to focus on his own career duties and to not seek out intelligence products.”
A member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Teixeira has been charged with two counts: retention and transmission of national defense information and willful retention of classified documents. He faces up to 25 years in prison. As the investigation proceeds, he could face additional charges.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers hadsparred over whether Teixeira should be released on bond. Federal prosecutors said he posed a security risk because he might still possess classified documents that investigators have not yet found, and foreign governments could try to recruit him to find out what he knows.
Teixeira’s lawyer, Brendan Kelley, has said that with careful monitoring Teixeira could safely go home — arguing authorities have tried to make a young man who still lives with his parents in the community where he grew up sound more dangerous than he is.
Hennessy, the judge, had pushed back on suggestions from Teixeira’s attorney, who claimed his client only meant to share the information with a small group of online friends, not the wider world.
“The defendant put top-secret information on the internet, and your argument is that he had no idea that it would go anywhere beyond the server,” Hennessy said at a hearing last month. “I find it a little incredible that the defendant could not foresee that possibility.”
Teixeira’s father told the court last month that, if his son were released, he would notify authorities should any bond conditions be violated, and that there would be security cameras around the home to alert the father to any movement there while he was at work.
“The damage the Defendant has already caused to the U.S. national security is immense. The damage the Defendant is still capable of causing is extraordinary,” prosecutors wrote in an earlier court filing. “Detention is necessary to ensure that the Defendant does not continue on his destructive and damaging path.”
In their filings, prosecutors have said Teixeira exhibited disturbing behavior five years ago while a high school student, and was suspended after a classmate overheard him talking about weapons, “including Molotov cocktails, guns at the school, and racial threats.”
More recently, according to prosecutors, Teixeira posted comments online about conducting a mass shooting, including in November when he wrote in a social media post that if he had his way, he would “kill a … [expletive] ton of people,” which he said would be “culling the weak minded.” In previous court filings, prosecutors also shared photos of what they characterized as an “arsenal” of weapons found in his home.
Teixeira’s lawyer has said the talk of an arsenal was overheated — because the guns in court images that had been thought to be in his room are not real weapons, but replicas known as airsoft guns. The firearms in Teixeira’s house are locked away in a cabinet, according to Kelley.
Prosecutors say there also is evidence that, as the leak investigation progressed, Teixeira may have destroyed evidence of his crimes and told others not to talk to authorities. Earlier this month, Teixeira allegedly told an online friend: “If anyone comes looking, don’t tell them” anything, and encouraged that person to “delete all messages.”
Teixeira’s attorneys havepushed back against those claims, saying Teixeira was peacefully reading a Bible when agents came to arrest him, and that prosecutors’ notions of the risks to national security if he is released are far-fetched and fanciful.
The prosecution, Teixeira’s lawyer Allen Franco wrote in a court filing last month, has engaged in “hyperbolic judgments and provides little more than speculation that a foreign adversary will seduce Mr. Teixeira and orchestrate his clandestine escape from the United States. This argument is illusory. The government has presented no articulable facts to support these assertions.”
Source: Discord leak suspect shared U.S. secrets with foreigners: Justice Dept. – The Washington Post