U.S. federal agents arrested Air Force National Guard member Jack Teixeira in connection with the Justice Department’s investigation into reports that troves of classified national defense information were recently leaked and posted online, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland announced Thursday.
Teixeira is set for an initial appearance at the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, where he was arrested Thursday.
“FBI agents took Teixeira into custody earlier this afternoon without incident,” Garland confirmed in a press briefing shortly after the suspect was arrested. The attorney general said the arrest is directly associated with the federal “investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information.”
This arrest comes after U.S. authorities scrambled for days to hunt down the source of the leaked materials, which allegedly encompassed sensitive details about Ukrainian military operations and other classified national security and intelligence information that was shared globally on social media for a notable period of time before being taken down.
Pentagon press secretary Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder would not confirm initial reports that a Massachusetts Air National Guardsman was taken into custody Thursday in response to questions during a weekly Defense Department briefing that occurred at roughly the same time as Teixeira’s arrest.
“I don’t want to speculate or get ahead of the DOJ investigation — we need to allow that to run its course,” Ryder repeatedly told reporters.
Still, he did confirm that the Office of the Secretary of Defense is conducting its own internal review of multiple factors relating to safeguarding classified materials.
“This includes examining and updating distribution lists, assessing how and where intelligence products are shared, and a variety of other steps. I would say, though, that it is important to understand that we do have stringent guidelines in place for safeguarding classified and sensitive information. This was a deliberate criminal act — a violation of those guidelines,” Ryder said.
In response to DefenseScoop’s questions at the Pentagon briefing, Ryder would not confirm whether the Defense Department is deploying technologies right now to spot leaked documents online and track potential indicators of internal leaking-type practices.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics of where, how and when we conduct our intelligence activities. But we’re always looking at potential gaps or potential vulnerabilities — and that’s something that will just be ongoing,” Ryder told DefenseScoop.