WASHINGTON (NewsNation) — A Massachusetts Air National Guard member who has emerged as a main person of interest in the disclosure of highly classified military documents on the Ukraine war was taken into custody Thursday “without incident” by federal agents, according to U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.
Investigators believe that the guardsman, who specializes in intelligence, led the online chat group where the documents were posted. The guardsman, identified as 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, will appear in court Friday.
FBI agents converged Thursday at Teixeira’s Massachusetts home and heavily armed tactical agents took a man wearing a T-shirt and shorts into custody outside the property.
It was not immediately clear if Teixeira had a lawyer who could speak on his behalf, and a phone message left at a number believed to belong to his mother was not immediately returned.
The Department of Justice opened a formal criminal probe last week and the Pentagon is assessing the damage done by what may be the most deleterious release of classified U.S. information in years.
Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder said Thursday the leak was a “deliberate criminal act,” but did not comment further, citing the ongoing investigation.
U.S. President Joe Biden earlier on Thursday said investigators were closing in on the source of the leak.
It’s possible the leak may have started on a site called Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games. The Discord site hosts real-time voice, video and text chats for groups and describes itself as a place “where you can belong to a school club, a gaming group, or a worldwide art community.”
In one of those forums, originally created to talk about a range of topics, members would debate the war in Ukraine. According to one member of the chat, an unidentified poster shared documents that the poster claimed were classified, first typing them out with the poster’s own thoughts, then, as of a few months ago, uploading images of folded papers.
Discord has said it was cooperating with law enforcement.
The Associated Press, Reuters and Devan Markham contributed to this report.