Leak suspect ‘had been warned about handling of classified information’

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Superiors of the US airman charged with leaking highly classified military documents raised concerns internally on multiple occasions about his handling or viewing of classified information, according to a court filing.

Justice Department lawyers made the disclosure in court papers urging a magistrate judge to keep Jack Teixeira behind bars while he awaits trial in the case stemming from the most consequential intelligence leak in years.

The judge is expected to hear more arguments on Friday on prosecutors’ detention request and issue a ruling.

Teixeira is accused of sharing highly classified documents about top national security issues in a chatroom on Discord, a social media platform that started as a hangout for gamers.

Jack Teixeira, centre, is seated as defence lawyer Brendan Kelley stands and speaks
Jack Teixeira, centre, is seated as defence lawyer Brendan Kelley stands and speaks (Margaret Small/AP)

Prosecutors told the judge in their filing Teixeira continued leaking documents even after he was admonished by superiors on two separate occasions last year over “concerning actions” he took related to classified information.

A September memo from the Air National Guard 102nd Intelligence Wing says Teixeira was seen taking notes on classified intelligence information and putting them in his pocket.

Teixeira was told at the time to no longer take notes in any form on classified intelligence information, the memo says.

Another memo from late October says a superior was made aware Teixeira was “potentially ignoring the cease-and-desist order on deep diving into intelligence information” given to him the month before.

The memo says Teixeira attended a meeting and proceeded to ask “very specific questions”.

He was told again to focus on his job, not any “deep dives” into classified intelligence information.

A third memo from February says Teixeira was again seen viewing information “that was not related to his primary duty and was related to the intelligence field”.

Electronic items allegedly recovered from a bin at the defendant's mother and stepfather’s home
Electronic items allegedly recovered from a bin at the defendant’s mother and stepfather’s home (Justice Department/AP)

“The defendant even continued to share information with his online associates, defying these admonishments and taking further efforts to conceal his unlawful conduct,” prosecutors wrote.

Lawyers for Teixeira, who was arrested last month on charges under the Espionage Act, are urging the judge to release him to his father’s home, noting he did not flee when media outlets began publishing his name shortly before his April 13 arrest.

His lawyer told the judge last month Teixeira “will answer the charges” and “be judged by his fellow citizens”.

In their own court filing on Wednesday, Teixeira’s lawyers said there have been many Espionage Act cases in which courts have approved release or the government did not seek to keep the person behind bars pretrial.

They have also said there is no allegation Teixeira ever intended for documents to be distributed widely.

But prosecutors said in their filing on Wednesday that one of the servers on the social media platform he posted classified information to had at least 150 users at the time the information was shared and “now may have many more users that are actively seeking access to information”.

“Among the individuals with whom the defendant shared government information are a number of individuals who represented that they resided in other countries and who logged on to the social media platform using foreign IP addresses,” prosecutors wrote.

The Justice Department motion for continued pretrial detention of Jack Teixeira
The Justice Department motion for continued pretrial detention of Jack Teixeira (Jon Elswick/AP)

He also acknowledged he was not supposed to be sharing the information, prosecutors said, writing in another message, “All of the shit I’ve told you guys I’m not supposed to,” according to the Justice Department’s filing.

Magistrate Judge David Hennessy heard arguments from lawyers over detention late last month but has yet to issue a ruling and scheduled a second hearing on the matter for Friday.

In earlier court records, prosecutors said Teixeira kept an arsenal of weapons before his arrest and has a history of violent and disturbing remarks.

The leaked documents appear to detail US and Nato aid to Ukraine and US intelligence assessments regarding US allies that could strain ties with those nations.

Some show real-time details from February and March of Ukraine’s and Russia’s battlefield positions and precise numbers of battlefield gear lost and newly flowing into Ukraine from its allies.

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