Discord leak suspect accused of stealing and sharing military secrets
Following his arrest yesterday, the US Air National Guard airman suspected of sharing a treasure trove of national security secrets with his Discord chat group is now facing charges under the Espionage Act.
Jack Teixeira, 21, was charged on Friday with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents. Teixeira, a Massachusetts Air National Guard airman, was stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base, part of Joint Base Cape Cod.
If convicted on both counts under the Espionage Act, Teixeira could face up to 10 years in prison.
Teixeira’s seemingly extraordinary access to classified documents and new details about the war in Ukraine was, of course, due to his role as a companion to cyber defense operations, according to the affidavit accompanying the criminal complaint.
This document offered new details about the investigation of Teixeira, including how the FBI identified him. Prior to Teixeira’s arrest, The New York Times and The Washington Post both spoke with members of the Discord server, where a group of online friends bonded over guns, racist memes and games. The Times published Teixeira’s name shortly before his arrest on Thursday.
On April 12, the FBI obtained the billing details on Teixeira’s server from Discord. Teixeira paid off the Discord server where he shared the secret documents using his real name and an address in North Dighton, Massachusetts where he would soon be arrested.
“While Discord places great importance on the privacy of our users, we believe that our platform best meets the needs of everyone when we collectively adopt responsible behavior online,” a Discord spokesperson told TechCrunch. . “Our Terms of Service expressly prohibit the use of Discord for any unlawful or criminal purpose, which includes sharing materials on Discord that can be verifiably classified.”
The company noted that it has since removed the classified content, banned accounts involved in its distribution, and warned other users who still share the materials on other servers.
The airman also apparently used his government apparatus to search classified intelligence reports for the word “leak” on April 6, the same day public reports acknowledged the leaked documents.
While the cache of documents then bubbled up on public social media sites, they were first shared with a small group of friends through the Discord server that Teixeira ran. According to the affidavit, another member of the server said the posts began in December 2022, appearing first as text and later as photos of sensitive documents. These photos included current military intelligence on the operation in Ukraine, including troop movements, and documents indicating US surveillance of allies like South Korea, among other sensitive topics.
The documents apparently sat on the small Discord server for months without notice from the US government before eventually ending up on more popular forums. The FBI investigation only began last week after the classified information began to appear on public social media.
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