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Feds: Pentagon leaker smashed electronics, still poses threat

  • Jack Teixeira is charged with releasing classified information
  • Prosecutors say he tried to destroy evidence
  • They are asking a judge to keep Teixeira jailed while he awaits trial

(NewsNation) — The Massachusetts Air National Guardsman charged with releasing classified information is being detained pending a judge’s decision on whether he will be allowed to stay with his family until the trial or he will remain in jail.

Federal prosecutors argue Jack Teixeira, 21, destroyed evidence, made posts about violence and murder, and could still pose a threat to national security.

The allegations are included in an 18-page filing made Wednesday night ahead of Thursday’s detention hearing arguing Teixeira should remain in custody while he awaits trial. He was arrested earlier this month after classified documents surfaced on social media.

Prosecutors argue Teixeira poses a flight risk and “may still have access to a trove of classified information that would be of tremendous value to hostile nation states that could offer him safe harbor and attempt to facilitate his escape from the United States.”

Teixeira is accused of sharing highly classified military documents about Russia’s war in Ukraine and other top national security issues in a chat room on Discord, a platform that started as a hangout for gamers. The stunning breach exposing closely held intelligence has sparked international concern and raised fresh questions about America’s ability to safeguard its secrets.

The filing goes on to allege Teixeira took “obstructive steps” after the Justice Department began investigating the leak, including smashing electronic devices and telling other Discord users to delete messages. A tablet, laptop and Xbox were allegedly found in a dumpster at his home.

“These efforts appeared calculated to delay or prevent the government from gaining a full understanding of the seriousness and scale of his conduct,” the motion for pretrial detention states.

In a response, lawyers for Teixeira argued he should be released, saying he posed no danger to the community and was not a flight risk. They described his father’s home as “specially equipped” to serve as a residence, because it has Ring doorbell cameras on all doors and an indoor camera system he could use to monitor his son even while he was at work.

Regarding a proposal that would prevent Teixeira from accessing the internet, lawyers argued parental controls on the home’s WiFi network would allow Teixeira’s father to monitor all activity and prevent any unauthorized devices from connecting.

According to the filing, the interior camera system and WiFi controls were installed when Teixeira was a teen, to allow his father to monitor him while not at home.

Court documents show the FBI used Discord billing records to identify Teixeira. In the court documents, investigators disclosed that Teixeira began photographing documents after expressing concern to other group members that he might be discovered transcribing the text at work.

The documents revealed information on the war in Ukraine, including the dire state of Ukraine’s air defense. Other national security information in the documents included information on the Middle East and China, and details on U.S. intelligence operations in Russia. The documents also indicated the U.S. is spying on allies like South Korea and Israel.

If released, prosecutors believe Teixeira could expose more secrets.

“Here, the government is still investigating whether and where the Defendant may have retained any physical or digital copies of stolen classified information, including information that has not surfaced publicly,” prosecutors wrote. “In this effort, the Defendant has a head-start on the government.”

Beyond a national security risk, prosecutors also allege Teixeira has a history of regularly making comments about murder and violence. They claim he used his government computer to search for the terms “Ruby Ridge,” “Las Vegas shooting,” Mandalay Bay shooting,” “Buffalo tops shooting” and “Uvalde.”

Discord chat logs included in the filing also show Teixeira told another user he was tempted to buy a minivan and convert it into an “assassination van.”

In another message, he asks a user about what type of rifle would be easy to shoot from the back of an SUV and describes how he would conduct a shooting in a “crowded urban or suburban environment.”

“Even giving the Defendant the benefit of the doubt and assuming some of his comments were hyperbolic, in 2018, the Defendant’s school took his comments about weapons seriously enough to suspend him,” prosecutors wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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