The FBI has arrested the 21-year-old Air National Guard, who they believe is linked to a series of leaked classified US intelligence documents that have seriously affected US relations with its allies while exposing weaknesses in the Ukrainian government. army.
The man, first identified by The New York Times as Jack Teixeira, is a member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard and is associated with an online group where the leaked documents first appeared.
The New York Times gathered digital evidence and identified the 21-year-old by comparing photos from his online profile with photos from the location where the leaked documents were photographed, which shows the kitchen counter inside his parents' home.
An FBI spokesman said:
"Today, the FBI arrested 21-year-old Jack Teixeira without incident at a residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts, for his alleged involvement in the leak of classified US government and military documents."
"The FBI continues to conduct authorized law enforcement activity at the residence," he said. "Since late last week, the FBI has been aggressively following up on the investigation, and today's arrest exemplifies our continued commitment to identify, pursue, and bring to justice those who betray our country's trust and endanger our national security." our security" says the announcement.
The 21-year-old was arrested in North Dayton, a rural community south of Boston. He is believed to be the head of Thug Shaker Central, an online group of 20-30 members who shared their love of guns, racist memes and video games.
Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder earlier described the leak as a "premeditated criminal act."
Some of the leaked information is said to be about Ukraine's military capabilities and shortcomings, as well as information about US allies such as Israel, South Korea and Turkey.
The difference of the case with previous leaks of classified information in the US
Most of the attention in leak cases in recent years has focused on officials who provided information to journalists with the intention of informing the public at large, leading to debates about whistleblowing and the role of a free press. Based on what we know so far, it appears to be a very different situation.
The leak investigation has drawn comparisons to the Edward Snowden case, New York Times analysts note — but Snowden has never been tried in a US court, and former prosecutors see greater parallels with the 2018 prosecution of the contractor Defense Reality Winner, who was sentenced to more than five years for leaking an intelligence report on Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
However, there is one key difference: Unlike the Ukraine leak, which was initially limited to a small online chat group, in Winner's case the leak went straight to the media.
The Justice Department had launched a formal preliminary investigation last week into the leak while the Pentagon is currently assessing the impact of perhaps the most damaging release of classified US documents in years.
Justice Department investigations into national security leaks fall into two broad categories — “easy and hard,” said former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who also served as U.S. Attorney for Maryland, which includes the National Security Agency in Ft. Meade according to the New York Times. "The difficult ones are the ones where you have to find the source. The easy ones are the ones where you know who leaked it. This seems, at the moment, to be easy".
The Pentagon, in turn, has promised to review its top-secret clearance policy.