Suspected Pentagon leaker Jack Teixeira may have begun sharing sensitive data online earlier than previously believed and with a much larger group of people, the New York Times has reported.
The US Air National Guard serviceman was arrested last week and charged with unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified US national defense information. The case relates to documents on the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict and other issues that the 21-year-old published to a group of 50 people on the Discord social media platform.
But the NYT claimed on Friday that it had discovered another Discord group with some 600 members, in which Teixeira may have been sharing sensitive information since late February 2022, when Russia launched its military operation in Ukraine.
The person behind the posts used a nickname previously connected to Teixeira, claiming to have been working at a US Air Force intelligence unit. They uploaded pictures matching those posted by his other family members from their home in North Dighton, Massachusetts, the paper said.
The sensitive data that appeared on the Discord group related to Russian and Ukrainian casualties, the activities of Moscow’s spy agencies, and updates on Western military aid to Kiev. The user claimed that the information had come from the NSA, CIA and other intelligence agencies, the NYT said.
According to the report, the first leak apparently took place just 48 hours after the outbreak of the conflict, as the user wrote that he “saw a Pentagon report saying that one third of the force is being used to invade.” He then allegedly boasted that he had “a little more than open source info. Perks of being in a USAF intel unit.”
The paper said it didn’t find any actual classified documents being shared in the group, but suggested that they could have been deleted by the person who posted them.
The leaks continued until March 19, when the user in question reportedly wrote: “I’ve decided to stop with the updates.”
“The additional information raises questions about why authorities didn’t discover the leaks sooner, particularly since hundreds more people would have been able to see the posts,” the NYT wrote.
The paper said it contacted the FBI, the Department of Justice and Teixeira’s lawyers about their findings, but they all declined to comment.
The Pentagon has never officially confirmed the authenticity of classified briefing slides that made headlines in the media earlier this month. US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby told reporters earlier that the documents were “not intended for public consumption,” and had “no business” being “on the front pages of newspapers or on television.”