The former Massachusetts Air National Guardsman accused of stealing and disseminating classified Pentagon records online is asking a federal judge to set him free and reverse a previous ruling that he remain in pretrial detention. The filing draws a direct comparison to former President Donald Trump, who remains free pending trial for his alleged mishandling of classified documents.

Attorneys for Jack Teixeira on Monday appealed the May detention order imposed by Magistrate Judge David H. Hennessy, asking the Massachusetts Federal District Court judge to reconsider Teixeira’s release, arguing the defendant is not a flight risk, poses no risk of obstruction of justice and can be released under certain conditions. 

“A 21-year-old, with a modest income, who has never lived anywhere other than his parents’ home, does not have the means or capacity to flee from a nationally recognized prosecution. Mr. Teixeira has no real-world connections outside of Massachusetts, and he lacks the financial ability to sustain himself if he were to flee,” his attorneys wrote Monday, “Even if Mr. Teixeira had shown any inclination to become an infamous fugitive, which he expressly has not, he simply has nowhere to go.” 

Government prosecutors say Teixeira was behind the leak of government secrets about the United States’ interests abroad, including detailed information about the war in Ukraine. Teixeira has been charged under the Espionage Act with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents. He has pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors argued the former military technology worker’s previous access to classified materials posed a risk to national security and could present future dangers. But in arguing for his release, Teixeira’s defense refutes the contention, writing, “The government seized electronic devices and conducted a thorough search of his mother and father’s residences, which failed to produce any evidence demonstrating that a trove of top-secret information might still exist.”

Monday’s filing notably compares Texeira’s case to that of Trump, also charged with the illegal retention of national defense information. Trump and his codefendant, Walt Nauta, remain free from pretrial detention after prosecutors in special counsel Jack Smith’s office did not ask for any term of incarceration or electronic monitoring. The conditions of their release have been limited to avoiding discussing the case with one another and other witnesses. 

“The government’s disparate approach to pretrial release in these cases demonstrates that its argument for Mr. Teixeira’s pretrial detention based on knowledge he allegedly retains is illusory,” the defense’s filing said, listing other examples of similar cases as well. 

Teixeira, unlike Trump, is accused of transmitting classified information, according to the indictment against him. While federal prosecutors allege in the indictment against him that Trump showed classified documents to others on two occasions, the former president has not been accused of spreading classified information on a scale comparable to the allegations against Teixeira.

Trump and Nauta have both pleaded not guilty.

Teixeira’s lawyers also argued that any forum on which he shared information —  including the Discord group where they first surfaced — likely is no longer functioning.

“Mr. Teixeira does not pose a serious risk to national security because he lacks both the means and ideological desire to engage with a foreign adversary to harm the United States,” the filing argues, adding that Trump also had access to very serious information and is not detained. 

— Kathryn Watson and Melissa Quinn contributed reporting.