A federal grand jury has indicted a US Air National Guardsman accused of leaking top-secret military intelligence records online, the Justice Department said in a statement on Thursday (Jun 15).
Jack Douglas Teixeira, 21, of North Dighton, Massachusetts, was indicted on six counts of wilful retention and transmission of classified information relating to national defence, the statement said.
Each charge of unauthorised retention and transmission of national defence information provides for a sentence of up to 10 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to US$250,000, the department added.
Teixeira is accused of committing one of the most serious US security breaches since more than 700,000 documents, videos and diplomatic cables appeared on the WikiLeaks website in 2010.
He was arrested in April after allegedly posting highly classified material on the messaging app Discord, prompting concerns about how a low-level airman could have such broad access to military secrets. Two commanders in his unit were later suspended.
Federal law requires the government to secure an indictment within 30 days of a person’s arrest, and Thursday marked the 30-day deadline.
The leaked documents held highly classified information on allies and adversaries, with details ranging from Ukraine’s air defences during the Russian invasion to Israel’s Mossad spy agency. US President Joe Biden has ordered an investigation into why the alleged leaker had access to the sensitive information.
A member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s 102nd Intelligence Wing, Teixeira had earlier waived his right to a preliminary hearing.
He had been charged in a criminal complaint with one count of violating the Espionage Act for unlawful copying and transmitting sensitive defence material, and a second charge related to unlawful removal of defence material to an unauthorised location.