Jack Teixeira pleads guilty to leaking hundreds of classified U.S. documents


Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard charged with leaking classified military documents on a social media platform, pleaded guilty on Monday to carrying out one of the most serious U.S. national security breaches in years.

Teixeira, who has remained in custody since his arrest last April, admitted wrongdoing during a hearing in federal court in Boston after striking a plea deal with prosecutors who plan to ask a judge to sentence him to over 16 years in prison.

The 22-year-old pleaded guilty to six counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information relating to national defence over a leak last year of a trove of classified records to a group of gamers on the messaging app Discord.

In exchange for pleading guilty, prosecutors agreed not to charge Teixeira with further violations of the Espionage Act or other crimes.

He agreed to be sentenced to at least 11 years in prison, and prosecutors said they would recommend 16 years, eight months in prison. He faced up to 60 years on all counts.

U.S. District Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for Sept. 27.

LISTEN l Teixeira case a new kind of leak, with documents from an active conflict: 

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Before his arrest at his mother’s house in North Dighton, Mass., Teixeira had been an airman 1st class at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod in Massachusetts, where he worked as a cyber defence operations journeyman, or information technology support specialist.

Despite being a low-level airman, Teixeira held a top-secret security clearance, and starting in January 2022 began accessing hundreds of classified documents related to topics including Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to prosecutors.

He did so even though his superiors admonished him twice in September and October 2022 about his handling of classified information, according to internal Air National Guard records filed in court.

Teixeira at the time led a private server — a kind of chat room — on Discord called “Thug Shaker Central,” where some two dozen people talked about guns and shared memes and jokes, some of them characterized by antisemitism and anti-Black racism. He began sharing classified information on three servers while bragging he had access to “stuff for Israel, Palestine, Syria, Iran and China.”

Previous concerns raised

The leaked documents held highly classified information on allies and adversaries, with details ranging from Ukraine’s air defences to Israel’s Mossad spy agency.

In December, the U.S. Air Force announced it had moved to discipline 15 personnel over the leak and relieved Col. Sean Riley of the command of the unit to which Teixeira belonged.

It did so after an Air Force inspector general report on the incident found that some members of Teixeria’s unit and leadership “had information about as many as four separate instances of his questionable activity.”

A smaller number of people had a more complete picture of his intelligence-seeking behaviour and “intentionally failed to report the full details of these security concerns/incidents,” the report said.

Following the leaks, the Air Force said it implemented several reforms to improve procedures related to access to classified information.

LISTEN l Hear ex-CIA officer on what needs to change after Teixeira leak: 

As It Happens6:38U.S. intelligence must tighten security wake of leak, says former CIA officer

Jack Douglas Teixeira, 21, a U.S. Air Force National Guard member with top secret security clearance, has been charged with unlawfully copying and possessing classified defence records, and knowingly removing classified records to an unauthorized location. Michael (Mick) Mulroy — a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defence, CIA officer and U.S. marine — has questions about how Teixeira was able to allegedly remove those documents, and who might have been whispering in his ear on the Discord chat room where he reportedly shared them.

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