Published: 06:17 BST, 22 April 2023 | Updated: 06:51 BST, 22 April 2023
The FBI is closing in on over two dozen potential suspects who were involved in Jack Teixeira’s Discord page, where he allegedly leaked security secrets.
It comes as it was revealed Teixeira, the US Air National Guardsman accused of leaking classified documents to a small group of gamers, had been posting sensitive information months earlier than previously known and to a much larger chat group.
In February 2022, soon after the invasion of Ukraine, a user profile matching that of Airman Jack Teixeira began posting secret intelligence on the Russian war effort.
Teixeira was using a previously undisclosed chat group on social platform Discord, the newspaper reported, adding the group had about 600 members, according to the New York Times, citing online postings reviewed by the newspaper.
The FBI has been interviewing friends of Teixeira from the infamously named ‘Thug Shaker Central’ Discord service.
The FBI is closing in on over two dozen potential suspects who were involved in Jack Teixeira’s Discord page, where he allegedly leaked security secrets
They’ve been asked how they were introduced to Teixeira, what kind of games they were playing and if they are foreign nationals.
Those who hung out on the Discord had previously said that some of the two dozen or so members were from Russia, Ukraine, mainland Europe, Asia and South America, according to the Washington Post.
At least one former member has had their electronic devices seized by the FBI but it’s not clear if the FBI has confirmed foreign nationals were on the server.
Teixeira, 21, had been scheduled for a detention hearing in Boston’s federal court, but the judge canceled it after Teixeira’s lawyer filed a motion requesting that it be delayed for about two weeks.
The defense said it ‘requires more time to address the issues presented by the government´s request for detention.’ A new date has not yet been set.
On Wednesday morning, Teixeira was brought to the courtroom in handcuffs and orange jail garb as he waived his right to a preliminary hearing. He said nothing beyond answering yes and no to questions about whether he understood his rights and the proceeding.
Teixeira was charged last week under the Espionage Act with unauthorized retention and transmission of classified national defense information. During his first court appearance last Friday, a magistrate judge ordered him to remain in custody until his detention hearing.
Documents believed to have been leaked by Jack Teixeira to various members of his Discord server
A court sketch shows US Air Force Guardsman Jack Teixeira (pictured in orange) appearing before a judge Wednesday, where he waived his right to a preliminary hearing on charges of leaking classified documents
Jack Teixeira, in T-shirt and shorts, is seen being taken into custody by armed tactical agents on Thursday, April 13
Teixeira is pictured in his uniform. He has yet to enter a plea over claims he leaked classified documents
He has not yet entered a plea. His federal public defender didn’t respond to an email last week from The Associated Press and didn´t speak to reporters at the courthouse.
Teixeira is accused of sharing highly classified military documents about Russia’s war in Ukraine and other top national security issues in a chat room on Discord, a social media platform that started as a hangout for gamers. The stunning breach exposing closely held intelligence has sparked international concern and raised fresh questions about America’s ability to safeguard its secrets.
Air Force leaders said Tuesday they were investigating how a lone airman could access and distribute possibly hundreds of highly classified documents. The Air Force has also taken away intelligence mission from the Air National Guard 102nd Intelligence Wing based in Cape Cod, where Teixeira served, pending further review.
Court records unsealed last week revealed how billing records the FBI obtained from Discord and interviews with social media comrades led authorities to Teixeira.
Investigators believe he was the leader of an online private chat group on Discord called Thug Shaker Central, which drew roughly two dozen enthusiasts who talked about their favorite types of guns and shared memes and jokes. The group also held a running discussion on wars that included talk of Russia´s invasion of Ukraine.
A Discord user familiar with Teixeira´s online posts told the FBI that a username linked to Teixeira began posting what appeared to be classified information roughly in December. The person provided the FBI with basic identifying information about Teixeira, including that he called himself ‘Jack,’ claimed to be part of the Air National Guard and appeared to live in Massachusetts, according to the court records.
The criminal complaint against Jack Teixeira filed April 14, 2023
The person also told the FBI that Teixeira switched from typing out documents in his possession to taking them home and photographing them because he ‘had become concerned that he may be discovered making the transcriptions of text in the workplace.’
That´s different from what posters have told The Associated Press and other media outlets – that the user they would call ‘the O.G.’ started posting images of documents because he was annoyed other users weren´t taking him seriously.
The prosecution affidavit alleges Teixeira was detected on April 6 – the day The New York Times first published a story about the breach of documents – searching for the word ‘leak’ in a classified system. The FBI says that was reason to believe Teixeira was trying to find information about the investigation into who was responsible for the leaks.
The classified documents range from briefing slides mapping out Ukrainian military positions to assessments of international support for Ukraine and other sensitive topics, including under what circumstances Russian President Vladimir Putin might use nuclear weapons.
Authorities have not revealed an alleged motive. But members of the Discord group described Teixeira as someone looking to show off, rather than being motivated by a desire to inform the public about U.S. military operations or to influence American policy.
The Biden administration has scrambled to contain the potential diplomatic and military fallout from the leaks since they were first reported, moving to reassure allies and assess the scope of damage. There has been no clear answer on how many documents were leaked. The Associated Press has viewed approximately 50 documents; some estimates put the total number in the hundreds.