(WORCESTER, Mass.) — Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira began accessing “hundreds” of highly classified U.S. intelligence documents more than a year before he was arrested for allegedly leaking them, federal prosecutors said in a new court filing Wednesday.
Prosecutors said government records show that as early as February 2022, Teixeira “began to access hundreds of classified documents containing national defense information that had no bearing on his role” as an IT specialist in his unit, according to the legal filing.
Prosecutors also outlined in detail the reasons they believe the 21-year-old Massachusetts native poses a danger to the public if allowed to be released from detention. In the filing, prosecutors pointed to the “virtual arsenal of weapons” they said Teixeira possessed at residences he occupied that are owned by his parents, including “bolt-action rifles, rifles, AR- and AK-style weapons, and a bazooka.”
Moreover, prosecutors flagged that as recently as July 2022, Teixeira allegedly used his government computer to search the terms “Ruby Ridge,” “Las Vegas shooting,” “Mandalay Bay shooting,” “Buffalo tops shooting” and “Uvalde,” according to the filing. Though investigators acknowledged the searches could be tied to Teixeira’s belief in conspiracy theories that the government knew of these mass shootings in advance, “the combination of these search terms, the Defendant’s violent statements on social media, and the Defendant’s arsenal of weapons is troubling,” prosecutors said in the filing.
Teixeira is scheduled to appear in a federal court in Worcester, Massachusetts, on Thursday for a detention hearing, after being charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information as well as willful retention of classified documents. He has yet to enter a plea.
In Wednesday’s filing, prosecutors argued that Teixeira “poses a serious flight risk” and “must remain detained.”
“He currently faces 25 years in prison — and potentially far more — and other serious consequences for his conduct,” they added. “[T]he evidence against him is substantial and mounting; the charged conduct would very obviously end his military career; and he accessed and may still have access to a trove of classified information that would be of tremendous value to hostile nation states that could offer him safe harbor and attempt to facilitate his escape from the United States.”
Prosecutors also claimed in the filing that Teixeira took “a series of obstructive steps” intended to prevent investigators from understanding the scope of what he allegedly did. Those steps, they said, include “instructions the Defendant gave to other online members of a social media platform (including to ‘delete all messages’ and ‘[i]f anyone comes looking, don’t tell them s***’), as well as the fact that following his arrest, authorities searched a dumpster at his residence and found a tablet, a laptop and an Xbox gaming console, all of which had been smashed.”
Prosecutors expressed concern in the filing that it would be “all too easy” for Teixeira, if released on bail, “to further disseminate classified information,” creating what they called an “unacceptable risk” he would flee the country and “take refuge with a foreign adversary.”
Wednesday’s filing came as two leaders of the unit where Teixeira worked were temporarily suspended by the U.S. Air Force amid its ongoing investigation into the leak.
The two senior leaders are the commander of the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron and the detachment commander overseeing administrative support for the squadron. With the suspension, they have also temporarily lost access to classified systems and information.
Earlier this month, the federal magistrate judge overseeing Teixeira’s case granted his request to delay the detention hearing that would have determined if he should remain in federal custody. Teixeira sought to postpone the hearing so his attorneys could have more time to address arguments for keeping him detained, according to a court filing.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.