The FBI has arrested Airman 1st Class Jack Douglas Teixeira, 21, in connection with a massive data leak that has exposed classified information about Ukraine, Russia, and other countries.
Teixeira joined the Air Force in September 2019, and he is currently serving as a cyber transport systems journeyman with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, according to his service record, which the Air Force provided to Task & Purpose on Thursday.
His duty station is listed as Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts, but he was reportedly assigned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, when he allegedly leaked classified documents online.
Teixeira’s only military award listed in his service record is an Air Force Achievement Medal.
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Teixeira is accused of sharing the classified documents in a chat group for video game enthusiasts that he oversaw called “Thug Shaker Central,” where young people talked about guns and shared racist memes, the New York Times reported.
FBI agents took Teixeira into custody “without incident” on Thursday afternoon, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland told reporters. Now the airman is expected to appear in federal court in Massachusetts.
Air Force Gen. Patrick Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, deferred reporters’ questions about Teixeira to Justice Department officials on Thursday.
Without naming Teixeira, Ryder described the data leak under investigation as “a deliberate criminal act.”
“We have procedures, we have protocols in place,” Ryder said during a Pentagon news briefing. “We receive regular training on the proper handling of classified information. As I mentioned, we sign non-disclosure agreements. So, those rules are very clear and anyone who has a security clearance knows that. Anyone who violates those rules is doing so willfully.”
Following the data leak, the Defense Department has started to review who needs to have access to the type of sensitive information that was leaked, Ryder said.
Ryder also drove home his point that the leak is a criminal act by comparing it to a home burglary.
“If you locked your front door and somebody came into your house and took something; you followed your procedures and you locked your door, but somebody went in your house and took something and put it out on the street,” Ryder said. “That’s what we’re talking about here.”
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