A federal judge denied Massachusetts Airman Jack Teixeira’s motion to be released while he waits for his trial to begin. Teixeira is accused of leaking classified documents on Discord that undermine the narrative put forward by the US government that the war in Ukraine was going well. The judge explained the authorities have been unable to find Teixeira’s hard drive, cell phone, or any of the documents he is accused of leaking.
In April, highly classified documents began circulating online showing war plans, Western troop deployments in Ukraine, casualty estimates, and a bleak prognosis for Kiev’s war effort. Other documents were embarrassing to Washington, such as the revelation that the White House was spying on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Initially, mainstream outlets speculated the documents were released by the Kremlin as pro-Russian propaganda. However, the New York Times outed Teixeira as the leaker, and he was subsequently arrested by the FBI.
The government has indicted Teixeira with six violations of the Espionage Act, each charge carries a ten-year maximum sentence. The airman has pleaded not guilty to the charges. Last week, Teixeira and his legal team appeared in court before Judge Indira Talwani. They were hoping the 21-year-old would be released into the custody of his father as he waits for his trial to begin.
Talwani denied Teixeira’s request while noting there were factors that “weigh in favor of release.” However, the judge said she sided with the prosecution “that Teixeira poses a risk of obstructing justice” if he was released.
“The circumstances of the offense leave open the possibility of further harm because some of the classified information at issue has not yet been recovered,” Talwani wrote. “The government has not found any of the physical documents Teixeira allegedly printed, nor has it located the hard drive from Teixeira’s home computer, or the digital copies of documents Teixeira may have stored electronically and then posted online. In the wrong hands, the information and documents that the government has not recovered could do great harm to the community by threatening national security.”
The judge also raised issues with comments Teixeira made online and his interest in firearms. “Teixeira’s social media messages display both an affinity for violence and vitriol for certain classes of people,” she added. The airman’s lawyers say the posts were made “primarily among teenagers” on a forum dedicated to war and combat-based video games.
One of the documents Teixeria is alleged to have released shows the US intelligence community believed Ukraine would fall “well short” of its goals to retake territory. Top White House officials, such as Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the assessment was incorrect, and the Joe Biden administration pushed Ukraine to launch the counteroffensive in early June.
As the leaked intelligence assessment predicted, Ukraine has only made small gains on the battlefield. Washington demanded Kiev employ tactics that involved taking high casualties.