US Airman arrested for leaking highly classified military documents on Ukraine war and national security

US Airman arrested for leaking highly classified military documents on Ukraine war and national security

A 21-year-old US Airman, Jack Teixeira, has been arrested and charged with the unauthorized removal and transmission of classified information. The charges are connected to a leak of highly classified military documents on the Ukraine war and other national security issues. Teixeira was arrested by the FBI at his family home in Dighton, rural Massachusetts, on Thursday. He is identified as the leader of an online chat group where the documents first emerged.

Dozens of leaked documents revealed US assessments of the war in Ukraine, as well as sensitive secrets about American allies. This has caused embarrassment to Washington and raised fresh questions over the security of classified information. Teixeira worked as an IT specialist in the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts National Guard, based at Otis Air National Guard Base in western Cape Cod. The National Guard is a reservist wing of the US Air Force. They are not employed full-time in the military but can be deployed when necessary.

Teixeira’s official title is Cyber Transport Systems journeyman, and he holds the rank of Airman 1st Class – a relatively junior position. It is not clear what level of security clearance Mr. Texeira had, but according to the Air Force website, employment in the role requires a single scope background investigation (SSBI). That clearance is reportedly required for access to top-secret information.

The motive for Teixeira’s actions is thought to be unusual. While he is said to have harboured scepticism of government, friends said he was neither a whistleblower nor a foreign agent. Footage of the arrest in Dighton, a town of 8,000 people about an hour south of Boston, shows a young man walking backwards with his hands raised to armed FBI officers. He was handcuffed and led to a vehicle.

US Attorney General Merrick Garland said the suspect was taken into custody without incident. He provided no further details on the investigation or the motive for the leaks. The Pentagon says it will re-examine how classified information is distributed, but a spokesman said it was “the nature” of the US military to entrust young service members with high levels of responsibility.

Starting several months ago, at least 50 but perhaps more than 100 classified documents were posted on Discord – a social media platform popular with gamers. The members of the chatroom included people from Russia and Ukraine and a number of other countries in Europe, Asia and South America, according to the Washington Post.

The leaks were initially kept inside the small chatroom, but in early March members began posting them on other Discord servers, including ones dedicated to the game Minecraft and a Filipino YouTuber. From there, they were posted on the fringe message board 4chan and on the Telegram chat app, particularly on pro-Russia channels. In some cases, they were altered to increase Ukrainian casualty counts.

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A defence department spokesman said the Pentagon was continuing to work to “understand the scope, scale and impact” of the leaks. Republican congressman Mike Turner – the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – vowed to “examine why this happened, why it went unnoticed for weeks, and how to prevent future leaks”.

Source: News Agencies

Farhad Safi
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