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Suspected leaker of secret Pentagon documents arraigned in Massachusetts

Security guards stand outside the entrance to the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts on Friday. Jack Teixeira, 21, an employee of the U.S. Air Force National Guard, appeared at the federal court on Friday,
Joseph Prezioso
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AFP via Getty Images
Security guards stand outside the entrance to the John Joseph Moakley United States Courthouse in Boston, Massachusetts on Friday. Jack Teixeira, 21, an employee of the U.S. Air Force National Guard, appeared at the federal court on Friday,

Updated April 14, 2023 at 2:23 PM ET

A federal judge in Boston has ordered the suspect in the recent leak of classified U.S. intelligence documents to remain in custody pending his detention hearing scheduled for next Wednesday morning, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Suspect Jack Teixeira, 21, is a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard. He was arrested at his home in Massachusetts Thursday.

Teixeira is accused of leaking classified government documents and sharing them on the gaming site Discord. Some of the documents include information about the war in Ukraine and were revealed online last week. The Department of Justice launched an investigation into the matter, which Attorney General Merrick Garland has said is ongoing.

"This is not just about taking home documents, that is of course itself illegal. This is about the transmission ... of the documents," Garland said Friday. "There are very serious penalties associated with that."

He added, "We intend to send that message, how important it is to our national security."

On Friday, President Biden said he has directed the military and intelligence agencies to limit distribution of classified information in the wake of the leaked documents.

"I commend the rapid action taken by law enforcement to investigate and respond to the recent dissemination of classified U.S. government documents," Biden said in a statement.

"While we are still determining the validity of those documents, I have directed our military and intelligence community to take steps to further secure and limit distribution of sensitive information, and our national security team is closely coordinating with our partners and allies," he said.

A social media user chatted with Teixeira online

According to court documents filed Friday, the FBI's investigation found that many of the documents Teixeira leaked had classified markings including noting that they were "top secret." Some of the images of the documents appeared to depict government information that was used in Pentagon briefings.

The court documents say that earlier this week, on or around April 10, the FBI interviewed a user of Discord where Teixeira allegedly leaked documents. According to the user who was interviewed, Teixeira, under a username, began posting classified information on one of the servers of the platform starting around December 2022. Teixeira was apparently the administrator of the specific server, and the user interviewed by the FBI said the purpose of the server was to discuss geopolitical affairs and current and historical wars.

The user interviewed said that originally Teixeira posted the classified information as paragraphs of text, but by January, he was posting photographs of the documents which appeared to have the classified markings of official U.S. government documents. The user interviewed said this was because Teixeira had become concerned he would be caught transcribing the documents at work, so he began to take them home to photograph.

The FBI says the user they interviewed spoke to Teixeira through Discord at "various times" through video chats, voice calls or the chat function. The user says they learned through these online conversations that the person they were communicating with called himself "Jack," appeared to reside in Massachusetts and claimed he was in the U.S. Air National Guard. The user described the person they were talking to as a white male with a clean-cut appearance who was between 20 and 30 years old.

On or about Wednesday, one day before Teixeira was arrested, Discord provided the FBI with records of the leaker's account. The records showed that the billing name associated with the username was Jack Teixeira and the billing address was a residence in North Dighton, Mass. — the same residence Teixeira provided as his primary residence for his employment paperwork with the Air National Guard.

Teixeira had a top secret security clearance

Relatives of Jack Teixeira leave the courthouse following his arraignment on Friday in Boston.
Scott Eisen / Getty Images
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Getty Images
Relatives of Jack Teixeira leave the courthouse following his arraignment on Friday in Boston.

Teixeira has been serving as an E-3/Airman First Class in the Air National Guard, stationed at Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod. As of February 2023, court documents say, his title was Cyber Defense Operations Journeyman. He had a Top Secret security clearance granted in 2021 and access to other highly classified programs.

Court documents also show that on April 6, Teixeira used his government computer to search classified intelligence reporting for the word "leak," which the FBI says may be reason to believe that Teixeira was searching for any updates on potential intelligence about his own actions.

Read the full charging documents below.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.