The FBI arrested Airman First Class Jack Douglas Teixeira, a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guard member, in North Dighton, Massachusetts on Thursday, one week after media reports began surfacing about leaks. His arrest will accelerate the investigation into the leak of dozens of highly classified documents to discover the process, purpose, authenticity, and presence of an accomplice. The leak by the Air National Guard member has led to heightened criticism against the lax security system of the U.S.
"FBI agents took Teixeira into custody this afternoon without incident," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a press conference on Thursday, adding that the airman will be arraigned on charges of violating the Espionage Act. CNN reported that he could have an initial appearance at the U.S. District Court of the District of Massachusetts as early as Friday.
Under the Espionage Act, Teixeira could face up to 10 years imprisonment for each leaked document. This means we cannot rule out the possibility of him serving hundreds of years in prison given that he leaked about 300 classified documents.
The arrest took place like a military operation, with about half a dozen FBI agents arriving in an armored vehicle at the home of Teixeira's mother in North Dighton. They were carrying military-style assault rifles. U.S. media, including CNN, live-streamed the moment of his arrest.
Airman First Class Teixeira was trained as a cyber transport systems specialist and was assigned to the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base. He had access to the Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, an internal Defense Department computer network for top-secret information, which allowed him to leak the classified materials. He leaked about 300 classified documents from last year through an online group called Thug Shaker Central, which he was running on Discord, a social media platform.
During peacetime, the National Guard is under the command of each state's governor and is responsible for handling local disasters, disaster response, and maintaining public order. In times of war, they are under federal command and take on some of the functions of the U.S. regular armed forces. The aftermath of this leak is likely to be long-lasting, as the exposed classified U.S. documents included wiretapping allegations on allies such as South Korea, military strength information on North Korea and China, and the state of the war in Ukraine. It is troubling that such sensitive information was leaked by a National Guard member, a reserve component that is not part of the U.S. regular armed forces.