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Prosecutors say suspected leaker of Pentagon documents had a weapons cache

The Justice Department motion for continued pretrial detention of Jack Teixeira is photographed Thursday.
Jon Elswick
/
AP
The Justice Department motion for continued pretrial detention of Jack Teixeira is photographed Thursday.

Updated April 27, 2023 at 4:34 PM ET

A judge in Worcester, Mass., is considering whether to detain Jack Teixeira, the Air National guardsman accused of leaking U.S. government secrets, after a hearing Thursday where federal prosecutors argued he should remain in jail pending trial.

Prosecutors argued Teixeira is a flight risk because he is a prime target for foreign governments looking for American secrets. During the trial they compared him to former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked classified documents in 2013 and then fled the country.

He is accused of illegally sharing classified information with contacts on the gaming site Discord.

"He has an enormous incentive to flee, and there are numerous adversaries of the United States that could provide him the means to do so, regardless of the conditions set by the Court," argued in their motion for pretrial detention.

The motion highlighted other aspects of concern including a "virtual arsenal of weapons" in the home of his parents in North Dighton.

Prosecutors said he had previously told friends online he wanted to kill a ton of people" and that he also spoke with friends about "forcibly culling the weak minded." He allegedly wondered about the best way to shoot people on the sidewalk from an SUV.

In a new court filing, federal prosecutors say Teixeira faces significant prison time, if convicted. They say Teixeira took steps to obstruct the investigation into the leak of U.S. intelligence documents, many of which were about Ukraine's war against Russia.

Teixeira's defense attorneys described him as a 21-year-old who didn't know his online chats would be made public. They want him released to his father's home and wrote in a brief that the prosecution's characterizations of Teixeira as a flight risk are "exaggerated."

"The government's supplemental motion for detention ... in many respects engages in hyperbolic judgements and provides little more than speculation that a foreign adversary will seduce Mr. Teixeira and orchestrate his clandestine escape from the United States," his defense attorneys wrote. "This argument is illusory."

According to court papers, investigators found a tablet, a laptop and a gaming console — all of them smashed — in a dumpster at Teixeira's house after his arrest. Teixeira also allegedly told an associate online to delete all messages with him and that if anyone came asking questions about him, not to tell them anything. Prosecutors also say Teixeira began in February 2022 to access classified national defense information that had no bearing on his job. Not all of those materials have publicly surfaced yet.

Teixeira worked in cyber systems at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod, and he was arrested at his family home in nearby North Dighton, Mass., on April 13.

Teixeira was granted top secret clearance in 2021, and the charges against him have sparked discussions about who has access to the U.S. government's national security secrets. President Biden said he directed the military and intelligence agencies to limit distribution of classified information, and the Pentagon has ordered a review of the handling of classified documents.

On April 19, the Air Force said the 102nd Intelligence Wing, where Teixeira worked at Otis, "is not currently performing its assigned intelligence mission. The mission has been temporarily reassigned to other organizations within the Air Force."

Dustin Jones contributed to this story.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Washington Desk