Air Guardsman Who Leaked Classified Documents Could Face New Military Charges

Jack Teixeira has already pled guilty to six counts of federal criminal offenses and has accepted a deal to spend 16 years in prison.
Air Guardsman Who Leaked Classified Documents Could Face New Military Charges
Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira (R) appears in U.S. District Court in Boston on April 14, 2023. (Margaret Small via AP)
Bill Pan

The Massachusetts Air National Guardsman who shared classified military information with his Discord chat group should face additional military charges for his conduct, prosecutors argued at a court hearing on May 14.

Jack Teixeira, 22, has already pled guilty to six counts of federal criminal charges related to leaking highly classified military documents.

As part of his plea deal, Mr. Teixeira accepted a prison sentence of 16 years, and prosecutors agreed not to charge him with additional counts under the Espionage Act. The deal also calls for Mr. Teixeira to pay a $50,000 fine and undergo 36 months of supervised release following his prison term.

Mr. Teixeira, who is scheduled for sentencing on Sept. 27 by a federal judge, appeared on May 14 in his military uniform at a military courtroom at Hanscom Air Force Base in Massachusetts. It was the first step in determining whether his case would also be referred to a general court-martial.

Military prosecutors pushed for three military-specific charges: one count of disobeying a lawful order and two counts of obstructing justice.

During the three-hour hearing, they spent most of their time presenting evidence showing Mr. Teixeira’s alleged failure to follow an order from a superior warning him not to access sensitive information unrelated to his job, as well as his alleged attempt to hide his misconduct by disposing of his electronic devices and instructing fellow users of Discord—an instant messaging platform popular among online gamers—to delete his messages.

The discipline to obey orders is “at the absolute core” of the U.S. military’s ability to accomplish its goals, argued Capt. Stephanie Evans, a military attorney representing the U.S. Air Force.

Attorneys for Mr. Teixeira did not present any evidence or call any witnesses. They instead asked the judge to consider whether the legal principle of double jeopardy, which prohibits multiple prosecutions for the same offense, should preclude the Air Force from bringing additional charges.

A military legal expert disagreed with the argument that additional charges would constitute double jeopardy, saying that the Air Force is not pursuing the same charges for which Mr. Teixeira was already prosecuted in federal court.

“While double jeopardy is applicable to the military justice system, it typically would not apply in cases where there are different charges that arise out of the same course of misconduct,” Gary Barthel, an attorney and founder of the Military Law Center, a firm that specializes in military cases, told The Epoch Times via email.

In Mr. Teixeira’s case, the Department of Justice (DOJ) did not charge him with any “purely military” offense, such as the failure to obey an order under the U.S. military code, Mr. Barthel noted.

“Since the offenses the accused is now facing in the military justice system are different than those the accused previously pled guilty to in federal district court, arguably double jeopardy would not apply in this case,” he said.

Lt. Col. Michael Raming, the hearing officer, joined the hearing virtually. He will now evaluate the evidence before making his recommendation on whether Mr. Teixeira’s case should move to trial.

According to federal prosecutors, the military documents Mr. Teixeira shared contained sensitive intelligence about the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, including information about troop movements in Ukraine and the provision of supplies and equipment to Ukrainian forces.

The documents were originally posted on a Discord server called “Thug Shaker Central,” and the earliest posts on the server may go back as far as October 2022.

The DOJ said Mr. Teixeira first typed out content of the classified documents and then began sharing photographs of files that bore “SECRET” and “TOP SECRET” markings.

The leaks garnered increased national attention in April 2023 as they were reshared on other social media platforms such as Twitter, Telegram, and the 4chan anonymous message board.

Federal prosecutors said they believe that Mr. Teixeira gained access to those documents while working as a cyber transport systems specialist—a position responsible for maintaining the infrastructures of the military communication network—for the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Bill Pan is an Epoch Times reporter covering education issues and New York news.
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