After days of search, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) detained a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard on Thursday who is suspected to be behind the leak of classified US intelligence documents that appeared online.
Attorney General Merrick Garland made the announcement about the arrest of 21-year-old Jack Teixeira.
The documents about the Ukraine war, US surveillance on friends and enemies and Israeli intelligence Mossad supporting anti-government protests at home, were said to have appeared on Discord.
Attorney General Garland said Jack Teixeira was taken into custody without any incident and will be formally charged in federal court.
“This investigation is ongoing. We will share more information at the appropriate time.”
According to the US attorney’s office in Boston, Teixeira will first appear in court on Friday.
Teixeira is believed to be the leader of the group which posted the trove of classified documents, CNN reported.
The search net included thousands of people who had access to classified information but the search was narrowed down by chat groups with evidence, thanks to the forensic trail left by the person who posted documents on social media.
The suspect was under surveillance for at least two days before his arrest, say officials.
Jack Teixeira was in US Air Force
According to the service details released by the US Air Force on Thursday, Jack Teixeira was an enlisted Airman 1st Class.
Teixeira joined the service in September 2019 and his job is to work as a Cyber Transport Systems journeyman. Cyber Transport Systems specialists are tasked with making sure the service’s “vast, global communications network” is “operating properly”, as per the US Air Force.
The Washington Post on Wednesday reported that the leaker was employed at a military base and released the documents to a group of people he knew.
In the report, the person was said to be a lonely young man and gun enthusiast who was part of a chatroom of about two dozen people on Discord that shared a love of guns and military gear, mentioned the suspected leaker’s friend who was interviewed by The Post and was also a member of the group in which documents were shared.
The alleged leaker Teixeira’s friends told CNN,
“He had a fascination with the military, guns and war. He would sometimes wear camouflage to school, carried a dictionary-sized book on guns, and behaved in a way that made some fellow students feel uneasy.”
Brooke Cleathero who attended middle and high school with him noted: “A lot of people were wary of him. He was more of a loner, and having a fascination with war and guns made him off-putting to a lot of people.”