The FBI on Thursday arrested a 21-year old Air National Guard member stationed in Massachusetts who may have leaked hundreds of classified intelligence documents, according to The New York Times.
As part of an ongoing criminal investigation into the leaks, the FBI conducted an “authorized law enforcement activity” at a home in North Dighton, the organization said in a statement, after the NYT identified a Massachusetts-based individual, Jack Teixeira, who served as de facto leader of the Discord server where the leaks originated. Separately, the leaks may have originated from an Air National Guard member stationed in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, at the time the documents were disseminated, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a U.S. official.
Authorities took Teixeira into custody without incident Thursday afternoon in connection with an investigation into the transmission of classified defense information, Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed. Teixeira will appear before the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts at an unspecified future date, he said.
BREAKING: Sky 5 was overhead as federal agents swarmed a Mass. home and detained a man amid the probe into leaked classified documents about the Ukraine war. https://t.co/5FCrFgz3QZ pic.twitter.com/cwdp4yWJLK
— WCVB-TV Boston (@WCVB) April 13, 2023
U.S. officials initially told the NYT that Texeira is a person of interest and may have valuable information to share about the investigation.
Texeira allegedly oversaw a private server on the Discord messaging platform, which consisted of 20-30 mostly young males in their teens and early 20’s, according to the NYT.
Members of the server became close friends and came to revere the individual, whom the NYT identified as Texeira, known as “OG.” OG began posting hundreds of photos of classified documents on a private Discord server where OG functioned as an administrator and claimed to access the information from his job on a military base, two members told The Washington Post on condition of anonymity to discuss the matter while the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation.
The NYT spoke to four members of the online community, which grew out of a common interest in religion and guns. While the NYT did not appear to confirm that Texeira himself was the leaker and his friends declined to disclose his identity, digital evidence appears to implicate Texeira, according to the NYT.
For example, his online gaming profile shows connections to the “Thug Shaker Central” discord server, and items visible on the margins of photos of the classified documents match photos the NYT discovered of items in Texeira’s home.
“This guy was a Christian, anti-war, just wanted to inform some of his friends about what’s going on,” one of OG’s friends told the NYT. “We have some people in our group who are in Ukraine. We like fighting games, we like war games.”
President Joe Biden suggested earlier Thursday that the FBI’s investigation was coming to a close, according to the NYT. “There’s a full blown investigation going on, as you know, with the intelligence community and the Justice Department, and they’re getting close,” he said.
“He’s a smart person. He knew what he was doing when he posted these documents, of course. These weren’t accidental leaks of any kind,” one member of the Discord server told the Post.
This article has been updated with additional information.
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