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Jack Teixeira expected to plead guilty in documents leak case

This photo illustration shows national guardsman Jack Teixeira reflected in an image of the Pentagon.
Stefani Reynolds
/
AFP via Getty Images
This photo illustration shows national guardsman Jack Teixeira reflected in an image of the Pentagon.

Updated February 29, 2024 at 6:13 PM ET

Jack Teixeira, the former Air National guardsman charged with leaking classified military documents online, is expected to plead guilty in the case. Prosecutors on Thursday filed a motion in federal court in Boston asking for a change of plea hearing next week.

The request comes almost a year after Teixeira was arrested and charged with the illegal retention and transmission of national defense information. He originally pleaded not guiltyto the charges.

Teixiera was indicted in June 2023by a federal grand jury in Boston following his arrest that April after he allegedly shared highly classified military documents about the war in Ukraine, in addition to other to national security issues on Discord, the social media site.

What Teixiera is alleged to have done

According to charging documents, Teixeira had worked in the 102nd Intelligence Wing based at Otis Air Force Base in Cape Cod, Mass., since May 2022 until his arrest. He was a cyber transports systems journeyman — similar to an information technology specialist — for the National Guard.

His unit provides worldwide intelligence for combat support and homeland security. Teixeira was granted a "top secret security clearance" in 2021, meaning he would have signed a "lifetime binding non-disclosure agreement" acknowledging that leaking protected information could result in criminal charges, according to the federal complaint.

According to the court documents, a social media user suspected of being Teixeira began releasing classified information in "paragraphs of text" onto a social media platform later revealed to be Discord as early as December 2022.

Initially, the purpose of divulging secret information was to "discuss geopolitical affairs and current and historical wars," the federal complaint said.

But beginning in January, the online user began posting photographs of what appeared to be official U.S. government documents with classification markings. Among the documents photographed was the status of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, including troop movements on a particular date.

The leaker later explained to another user that he was concerned that he would get in trouble for "making the transcriptions of text in the workplace" so he began taking the documents to his residence and photographing them, another online user known to have interacted with the leaker told the FBI.

Fallout from the leaks

Following the leaks, the Air National Guard took action against 15 service members, ranging from sergeants to colonels, for dereliction of duties for not stopping Teixeira's alleged activity. Some were fired, others received administrative punishment. Col. Sean Riley, who headed the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, was relieved of command. The Guard said it also suspended other commanders and said the 102nd Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Group was "taken off mission" when Teixeira was discovered as the source of the unauthorized disclosures.

The Air Force Inspector General's report painted a damning picture of inaction by officials in Teixeira's unit, who were repeatedly aware of what he was doing.

"Had any of these members come forward, security officials would likely have facilitated restricting systems/facility access and alerted the appropriate authorities, reducing the length and depth of the unauthorized and unlawful disclosures by several months," the report said.

With reporting by NPR's Juliana Kim, Jenna McLaughlin and Tom Bowman

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ryan Lucas covers the Justice Department for NPR.