Air National Guard Member May Get 17 Years Over Leak

Under plea deal, Jack Teixeira faces at least 11 years in prison
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 4, 2024 11:43 AM CST
Updated Mar 4, 2024 6:35 PM CST
Air National Guard Member Pleads Guilty in Document Leak
This artist's depiction shows Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira, right, appearing in US District Court in Boston, April 14, 2023.   (Margaret Small via AP, File)

This story has been updated with new developments. Massachusetts Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira pleaded guilty on Monday in federal court to leaking highly classified military documents about Russia's war in Ukraine and other national security secrets. Teixeira pleaded guilty to six counts of willful retention and transmission of national defense information under the Espionage Act nearly a year after he was arrested in the most consequential national security leak in years, the AP reports. The 22-year-old admitted illegally collecting military secrets and sharing them with other users on Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games.

US District Judge Indira Talwani scheduled sentencing for September in Boston's federal court and said she would decide then whether to formally accept the agreement, which calls for a prison sentence between 11 and nearly 17 years. Prosecutors said they plan to seek the high end of that range. Michael Bachrach, an attorney for Teixeira, told reporters they will push for a sentence of 11 years. Bachrach described Teixeira as a "kid," adding that the defense will show at sentencing that his youth played a significant role in his conduct, the AP reports. "He is significantly remorseful for his conduct," Bachrach said.

Teixeira, who was part of the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts, worked as a cyber transport systems specialist, essentially an information technology specialist responsible for military communications networks. Authorities said he first typed out classified documents he accessed and then began sharing photographs of files that bore SECRET and TOP SECRET markings. The leak exposed to the world unvarnished secret assessments of Russia's war in Ukraine, the capabilities and geopolitical interests of other nations, and other national security issues. Teixeira remains in the Air National Guard in an unpaid status, an Air Force official said.

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Teixeira has been behind bars since his April arrest. The judge denied his request for release from jail last year after prosecutors revealed he had a history of violent rhetoric and warned that US adversaries who might be interested in mining Teixeira for information could facilitate his escape. Prosecutors have said little about a motive. But members of the Discord group described Teixeira as someone looking to show off, rather than being motivated by a desire to inform the public about US military operations or to influence American policy. (The Air Force punished 15 people over security failures that led to the leak.)

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