Washington, Jun 15 (EFE).- Jack Teixeira, the young airman who was responsible for one of the biggest leaks of Pentagon documents in the past decade, was formally indicted Thursday for leaking classified documents.
Teixeira, 21, who last April had been arrested, on Thursday was formally charged with six counts of willful retention and transmission of classified information relating to US national defense, according to the US Department of Justice.
The National Guard airman is accused of using his security clearance to remove classified documents to which he had access and then posting them on social media sites, the DOJ said in a statement.
If Teixeira is found guilty, each of the charges carries a 10-year prison sentence, three years of probation and a fine of up to $250,000.
“The unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified information jeopardizes our nation’s security. Individuals granted access to classified materials have a fundamental duty to safeguard the information for the safety of the United States, our active service members, its citizens and its allies,” said acting US Attorney Joshua S. Levy in a statement.
“We are committed to ensuring that those entrusted with sensitive national security information adhere to the law,” Levy added.
Teixeira was arrested on April 13 and had gotten access to the documents at the National Guard airbase where he was working, taking them to his home and uploading them to Discord, a Web site popular among videogame enthusiasts. Later, the documents were shared on other social networks, including Telegram, and ended up on the front pages of newspapers all over the world.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement that “Teixeira is charged with sharing information with users on a social media platform he knew were not entitled to receive it. In doing so, he is alleged to have violated U.S. law and endangered our national security.”
Most of the leaked information was related to the war in Ukraine and provided details about US and NATO plans to strengthen Kyiv’s counteroffensive against Russian military forces occupying parts of Ukraine. In addition, the information indicated that the US could have been spying on some of its closest allies, including Ukraine, South Korea and Israel.
Teixeira entered the National Guard in September 2019 and had had clearance to access top secret information since 2021.
The DOJ calculates that he began collecting classified information and sharing it about January 2022, disseminating the information in two ways: in posts to the Discord chat room and via scanned images of the documents on which the “top secret” designation could be read.
The DOJ said that a federal judge will determine the sentence to be imposed on Teixeira, if he is found guilty, and added that the FBI is continuing to investigate the case.
Some analysts compared the potential impact of the case to the 2013 case involving Edward Snowden, who exposed the extent of massive espionage programs the US launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center in New York and significantly damaged The Pentagon, near Washington.