A Massachusetts Air National Guardsman arrested over the leak of highly classified military documents is expected in federal court on Friday as the US justice department prepares to outline the criminal case against him.
Jack Teixeira, 21, was arrested by heavily armed tactical agents on Thursday following a week-long criminal investigation into the disclosure of highly sensitive government records.
It was an alarming breach that exposed to the world unvarnished secret assessments of the war in Ukraine, the capabilities and geopolitical interests of other nations and other top national security issues.
Justice department prosecutors are expected to disclose new details about the allegations while unsealing a criminal complaint in Boston charging Teixeira under an espionage act provision that makes it a crime to remove, retain or transmit national defence information.
Investigators believe Teixeira was the leader of an online private chat group where the documents were shared.
Though prosecutors have not given a possible motive, accounts of those in the chat group have depicted Teixeira as motivated more by bravado than ideology.
The Biden administration has scrambled to contain the potential diplomatic and military fallout from the leaks since they were first reported last week, moving to assure allies and assess the scope of damage.
The leak is believed to have started on a site called Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games and where Teixeira is believed to have posted for years about guns, games and his favourite memes and, according to some chatting with him, closely guarded US secrets.
Discord has said it was co-operating with the investigation.
It was not clear how Teixeira would have had access to the records, but a defence department official told The Associated Press that as an IT specialist responsible for military communications networks, the young Guardsman would have had a higher level of security clearance
Defence secretary Lloyd Austin, in a statement after the arrest, said the Pentagon would conduct a review of its “intelligence access, accountability and control procedures” to prevent such a leak from happening again.