A 21-year-old national guardsman in the US is facing espionage charges over the leaking online of highly classified military documents.

The disclosure of confidential details about the Ukraine war and other spying activities has caused embarrassment in Washington and threatens to strain ties with key allies.

The Pentagon has described it as a “very serious risk to national security”.

Ukarine latest: Pentagon leak suspect to appear in court

So who is Jack Teixeira, detained by the authorities over the unauthorised release, believed to be the most serious security breach since the damaging WikiLeaks data dump in 2010?

The 21-year-old was an airman 1st class at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts, according to his service record.

He joined the Air National Guard in 2019 and worked as a “cyber transport systems journeyman”, which is essentially an IT specialist responsible for military communications networks and ensuring their protection.

Security clearance

As such he would have had a higher level of security clearance

Teixeira was arrested on Thursday by armed FBI agents at his home in the small town of Dighton, which lies around 50 miles (80km) south of Boston and has a population of 8,000.

A neighbour said he had previously attended Dighton-Rehoboth Regional High School.

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Moment suspected files leaker arrested

‘Just a quiet guy’

Former schoolmate Eddy Souza, 22, said: “He’s a good kid, not a troublemaker, just a quiet guy.

“It sounds like it was a stupid kid’s mistake.”

Read more:
What do the highly classified documents say?
How did someone so young have access to such sensitive files?

Teixeira went by the handle “OG” in a chat group on the instant messaging site Discord, where the documents are believed to have originated.

Called Thug Shaker Central it had around two dozen mostly young members who talked about their favourite types of guns and also shared memes and jokes, some of them racist.

Teixeira is believed to have been active on the site for years.

Closely guarded US secrets

Some who chatted with him said he also posted about closely guarded US secrets, although Teixeira has been depicted as motivated more by bravado than ideology.

Originally typing the sensitive material out with his own notations, a few months ago he switched to posting images of folded-up papers because he felt he was not being taken seriously, according to one member.

Threat of lengthy jail sentence

Held “in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorised removal, retention, and transmission of classified
national defence information” – Teixeira faces being charged under the Espionage Act and could be handed a lengthy jail sentence if convicted.