Military and Defense

Suspected Pentagon Classified Document Leaker Pleads Not Guilty

The Air National Guardsman suspected of distributing troves of classified intelligence online pleaded not guilty before a federal court Wednesday, CNN reported.

The Justice Department (DOJ) indicted Jack Teixeira on June 15 with six counts involving willful retention and distribution of highly classified information pertinent to national defense, in addition to previous charges. Authorities arrested the 21-year-old airman in April at his home in Dighton, Massachusetts, after discovering he was the most likely individual behind a massive leak of timely and sensitive Pentagon intelligence on online chat server Discord.

Teixeira pleaded not guilty to each count, according to CNN.

The classified documents described Ukrainian battle positions, sensitive negotiations with U.S. allies and assessments on capabilities of U.S. allies and adversaries. Prosecutors say exposure of the documents — the total number disclosed remains unknown — jeopardized national 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,” acting U.S. attorney Joshua S. Levy said in a statement announcing the indictment. “We are committed to ensuring that those entrusted with sensitive national security information adhere to the law.”

Teixeira has remained in custody during the trial and indictment, as prosecutors allege he could be a flight risk and a target for foreign governments, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“We remain as committed as ever and our entire family continues to share complete and unwavering support of Jack as he faces this matter,” family spokesperson Jen Reed told CNN. “The important thing is Jack will now have his day in court. And as we move through this process, we are hopeful that Jack will be getting the fair and just treatment he deserves.”

Teixeira’s attorneys previously argued in court that the Massachusetts native, who was working as an IT specialist for the Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing when the leaks occurred, did not expect the information to circulate widely around the internet, according to CNN. The Pentagon is overstating the risk Teixeira poses to the U.S. government, they argue.

The next hearing in Teixeira’s case is scheduled for August 9, CNN reported.

Court filings show that his superiors in the Massachusetts Air National Guard knew of Teixeira’s poor intelligence handling habits long before he began printing classified documents and funneling them to his home but failed to restrict his access.

Teixeira received a certificate of completion for training on “unauthorized disclosure” of classified information, a fact prosecutors cite as proof the airman knew he could be breaking the law by posting the information online.

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