A judge is set to decide Friday if a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard accused of leaking top-secret military documents will remain behind bars while awaiting trial.
Jacques Teixeira is due back in federal court in Worcester, Massachusetts, where a coroner is expected to hear arguments over prosecutors’ request to keep the 21-year-old in jail before issuing his sentence.
Teixeira, who faces charges under the Espionage Act, is accused of sharing secret military documents about Russia’s war in Ukraine and other major national security issues in a chatroom on Discord, a social networking platform that started as a hangout for gamers.
Teixeira, months before his arrest in April, was caught by prosecutors in court papers filed this week taking notes on classified information or viewing intelligence unrelated to his job.
He was warned twice by his superiors in September and October, and was observed again in February reading information “unrelated to his primary duty and related to the field of intelligence,” according to internal Air National Guard memos filed in court.
The disclosed information raised questions about why Teixeira still had access to military secrets after what prosecutors described as “procedures related” to the handling of classified information.
Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh was questioned Thursday about why Teixeira’s leaders took no action after raising concerns. Citing the Justice Department and Air Force investigations, Singh said these concerns and the possible lack of response to them are areas that the investigations will look into.
Teixeira has been in prison since his arrest last month on charges related to the biggest intelligence leak in years.
Magistrate Judge David Hennessy heard arguments about the detention from attorneys late last month, but delayed an immediate decision and scheduled a second hearing for Friday. The judge said he expected to rule on Friday.
The high-profile case is being tried by the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, and its lead — US Attorney General Rachel Rollins — is expected to resign by the end of Friday after two federal watchdog agencies found she committed a slew of ethical and legal violations.
Teixeira has not yet entered into a petition. His lawyers are urging the judge to release Teixeira to his father’s home, pointing out that he did not flee when the media began publishing his name shortly before the April 13 verdict. His lawyer told the judge last month that Teixeira would “answer the charges” and “his compatriots will judge him.”
Teixeira’s lawyers noted in court papers this week that there have been several Espionage Act cases in which courts have granted release or the government has not sought to keep the person behind bars before trial.
During last month’s hearing, prosecutors told the judge that Teixeira kept an arsenal of weapons prior to his arrest and had a history of violent and disturbing remarks.
Teixeira frequently had online discussions about violence, saying in one November letter that he would “kill a large number of people (expletive)” if he had what he wanted, because it would be “the execution of the weak-minded”, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors said that years earlier in high school, he was suspended when a classmate overheard him discussing Molotov cocktails and other weapons as well as racial threats.
The Justice Department said Teixeira used his computer in July to search for a mass shooting and government confrontation, including the terms “ruby ridge,” “Las Vegas shooting,” “Mandalay Bay shooting,” “Uvaldi,” and “ Buffalo Tops Shooting” — an apparent reference to the racist 2022 mass shooting at a Buffalo supermarket.
Investigators believe Teixeira was the leader of a private online chat group on Discord called Thug Shaker Central, which attracted nearly two dozen enthusiasts who talked about their favorite types of weapons and shared memes and jokes. The group also had an ongoing discussion about the wars, which included talk of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The leaked documents appear to detail US and NATO assistance to Ukraine and US intelligence assessments regarding US allies that could strain relations with those countries. Some show real-time details from February and March of battlefield locations in Ukraine and Russia and exact numbers of lost and newly flown battlefield equipment into Ukraine from its allies.
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