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Air National Guardsman arrested as suspected leaker of Pentagon documents

The Pentagon is seen from Air Force One as it flies over Washington on March 2.
Patrick Semansky
/
AP
The Pentagon is seen from Air Force One as it flies over Washington on March 2.

Updated April 13, 2023 at 6:43 PM ET

A 21-year-old member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, Jack Teixeira, was arrested as a suspect in the recent leak of classified U.S. intelligence documents, the Department of Justice said Thursday.

"FBI agents took Teixeira into custody earlier this afternoon without incident," Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters at a briefing in Washington, D.C. "He will have an initial appearance at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts."

On Wednesday, the Washington Post first reported that the leaker worked on a U.S. military base and shared the classified documents in a group on the platform Discord.

The documents, which came to light on social media last week, included sensitive information about the war in Ukraine. Some documents viewed by NPR showed what appeared to be briefing slides about the war, with maps and charts on Ukraine's troops and weapons. Some of the posts online showed photos of physical documents that were folded and creased in some instances.

The Department of Justice opened an investigation into the leaks, which Garland said is ongoing.

In television news coverage of the arrest, Teixeira was seen wearing an olive green t-shirt and red athletic shorts being taken into custody in the driveway of his Massachussetts home. The FBI says it's still searching Teixeira's house.

Officials say Teixeira worked in the 102nd Intelligence Wing based at Otis Air Force Base in Cape Cod, Mass., but his specific role and how he got access to the classified documents is unclear. The unit's job is to provide worldwide intelligence for combat support and homeland security.

Before Teixeira was identified, President Biden weighed in on the matter during his visit oversees in Ireland.

Biden said he was "concerned that it happened," though he added that "there was nothing contemporaneous that I'm aware of that is of great consequence."

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was also asked about the leaks and said the White House was reviewing any national security implications.

"This is something that we are taking very seriously," she said Thursday morning from Ireland.

After Teixeira's arrest, Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, the chair of the Armed Services Committee, said Congress would be briefed on the leak. A hearing is scheduled for next week.

"More answers are still needed. There are systemic issues that need to be addressed, including protocols for how intelligence is handled, the security clearance process and how officials can prevent intelligence leaks like this from ever happening again," Reed said in a statement.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Washington Desk
Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.