Accused Pentagon leaker should be held before trial, DOJ argues
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The Justice Department argued Wednesday night that accused Pentagon leaker Jack Teixeira must remain in detention before he is tried on charges related to his alleged unlawful retention and transmission of national defense and classified documents.
In a detention memo filed with the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, prosecutors presented several reasons the 21-year-old member of the Air National Guard should not be released to the custody of his father before his trial. He has a detention hearing scheduled for Thursday.
The Justice Department noted in the memo that Teixeira faces 25 year in prison and “potentially far more,” hinting that he may face more charges. The lengthy potential maximum sentence could make him a significant flight risk, prosecutors argue, and the value of the information he obtained — as well as his low current net worth of about $19,000 — could make him vulnerable to offers from countries unfriendly to the U.S.
“He accessed and may still have access to a trove of classified information that would be of tremendous value to hostile nation states that could offer him safe harbor and attempt to facilitate his escape from the United States,” the memo said.
The Justice Department warned that if released, Teixeira could pose an even greater threat now that his identity is known. “Those same adversaries have every incentive to contact the Defendant, to seek additional information he may have physical access to or knowledge of, and to provide him with the means to help him flee the country in return for that information.”
Investigators say they found evidence that Teixeira attempted to thwart the investigation into his alleged leaks; included in the prosecutors’ memo are samples of over 40,000 messages they say Teixeira sent on the instant messaging and social platform Discord — many about the allegedly leaked documents.
In March, he offered information to users in his group on Discord, according to a chat found by investigators.
Investigators also captured conversations that showed Teixeira instructing others in the Discord group to “delete all messages.”
“[i]f anyone comes looking, don’t tell them sh**,” he allegedly wrote to one user. And he told another, “Try to delete all my messages in civil discussions.” He came up with one plan to have a Discord user invite him to a chat and then ban Teixeira and use the “option to delete all my messages.” The user informed him, “it only goes to past 7 days.” Teixeira responded with a profanity.
Investigators say when they arrived at his mother’s home earlier this month, they found a tablet, laptop and XBox smashed in his trash. Also at the house, the FBI found a gun locker where multiple weapons, including handguns, rifles, shotguns and high-capacity weapons were stored “two feet” from his bed, the filing says.
Teixeira was suspended from high school in 2018 after a classmate heard him talking about weapons and Molotov cocktails. He claimed they were references to a video game but when he applied for a firearms identification that same year, he was rejected because of those remarks. He applied again in 2019 and was again denied the permit. In 2020, he argued that the position of trust he held with the U.S. government qualified him to possess a gun.
Teixeira also allegedly posted violent rhetoric online. The detention memo notes that last November, he wrote that if he had his way, he would “kill a [expletive] ton of people” because it would be “culling the weak minded.”
Earlier this year, in February, he allegedly told a user that he was tempted to make a type of minivan into an “assassination van.”
In July 2022, using his government computer, investigators say he searched numerous terms associated with mass shooting, including “uvalde.”
According to the government’s memo, beginning in February 2022, Teixeira had access to “hundreds of classified documents containing national defense information that had no bearing on his role as essentially an information technology (“IT”) support specialist.”
In the Discord group, investigators say, he acknowledged on multiple occasions that he posted classified material and even asked other members what they wanted him to post.
In March, he allegedly told the group he would no longer share classified materials and in April, he reemerged with a different username, encouraging others to delete messages.
The filing also contains numerous agreements Teixiera signed about his job at the Air National Guard, FBI affidavits, and pictures of his room.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Air Force said it had temporarily suspended two leaders of the unit where Teixeira worked.