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Intel leaks suspect is a flight risk and could have access to more classified docs, prosecutors say

The government will urge a judge to keep Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira behind bars, according to a court filing accusing him of discussing mass violence and having an arsenal of weapons.

The Air National guardsman accused of leaking classified documents poses an ongoing threat to national security because he “may still have access to a trove of classified information” that would be valuable to hostile countries, federal prosecutors said in court filings released late Wednesday.

Prosecutors will urge a judge Thursday to keep Jack Teixeira, 21, behind bars, arguing that he poses “a serious flight risk,” and that a “foreign adversary” could try to help him escape the United States and give him safe haven.

"The information to which the Defendant had access — and did access — far exceeds what has been publicly disclosed on the Internet to date," the document said. The leaks "have the capacity to cause additional exceptionally grave damage to the U.S. national security if disclosed."

Jack Teixeira is taken into custody by armed tactical agents on April 13, 2023, in Dighton, Mass.
Jack Teixeira is taken into custody April 13 in Dighton, Mass. WCVB-TV via AP

The 18-page memo said Teixeira had a history of making violent and racist remarks — including posting on social media about wanting to carry out a mass shooting — keeping "an arsenal of weapons" and tactical gear at his house and trying to thwart federal investigators by apparently destroying evidence.

The filing comes ahead of a detention hearing Thursday in Massachusetts federal court.

Teixeira disputed the claims in the motion for detention, saying the government “engages in hyperbolic judgments and provides little more than speculation that a foreign adversary will seduce Mr. Teixeira and orchestrate his clandestine escape from the United States.”

“This argument is illusory. The government has presented no articulable facts to support these assertions. It also engages in selective reasoning to conclude that there is currently a risk of obstruction,” he said.

Teixeira added he is entitled to be freed because "there are release conditions available to assure" he is present at trial and compliant with court procedures.

Teixeira, who has not entered a plea, has been in custody since his arrest on April 13 in a case that represents one of the most significant intelligence leaks in years. The saga has fueled global uproar and doubts over America’s ability to guard its secrets.

Prosecutors say in the court filing that Teixeira:

  • Presents a continued threat to national security because he still has access to classified documents that could harm the United States.
  • Is a flight risk because a foreign adversary could help him flee the U.S. and give him safe haven.
  • Made violent and racist remarks including posting online about wanting to carry out a mass shooting.
  • Had a cache of guns, ammo and tactical gear at his parents' house where he lived in Massachusetts.
  • Told other social media users to delete their messages in an apparent attempt to hinder investigators, who also found a smashed laptop in his dumpster.

Teixeira has been charged with possessing classified documents pertaining to national security and possessing national defense material. The charges could result in a prison sentence of 25 years “and potentially far more,” the court filing said. 

Teixeira's attorney declined after a hearing last week to speak to reporters.

“The damage the Defendant has already caused to the U.S. national security is immense. The damage the Defendant is still capable of causing is extraordinary,” prosecutors wrote. “If the Defendant were released, it would be all too easy for him to further disseminate classified information and would create the unacceptable risk that he would flee the United States and take refuge with a foreign adversary to avoid the reach of U.S. law.”

Teixeira, an airman first class, was assigned to the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base, Massachusetts.

A cyber defense operations journeyman granted top-secret security clearance in 2021, he is alleged to have used the online forum Discord to share the leaked information with his small community of online friends, and to have taken photos of paper documents that he may have smuggled out of a secure facility.

They reveal details of U.S. spying on Russia’s war machine in Ukraine and secret assessments of Ukraine’s combat power, as well as intelligence about America’s allies, including South Korea and Israel.

The incident has raised questions among lawmakers in Washington about who has access to classified materials and about safeguards.

On Wednesday, the Air Force suspended the commander and a detachment commander in the 102nd Intelligence Support Squadron, where Teixeira worked. And the Air Force last week halted the intelligence mission of the 102nd Intelligence Wing as the service’s inspector general investigates.

The document released late Wednesday said that Teixeira had “detailed and troubling discussions about violence and murder,” including posts on social media about wanting to carry out a shooting in a public area. He told another user he wanted to convert a vehicle into an 'assassination van," while in another message he said he wanted to “kill a [expletive] ton of people” as a way of “culling the weak minded,” it said.

Teixeira also used his government computer to search for information on previous mass shootings, including "Uvalde" and "Mandalay Bay shooting," the filing said. Media reports have suggested these searches may have been related to Teixeira's belief in conspiracy theories that the government had prior knowledge of these shootings, it added. But prosecutors said that coupled with his social media posts and weapons cache these searches were "troubling."

Teixeira lives in his mother and stepfather’s house in North Dighton, Massachusetts, and in his bedroom keeps a gun locker stocked with handguns, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, and an AK-style high-capacity weapon, prosecutors said.

His "arsenal of weapons" also included a bazooka, and a “silencer-style accessory,” according to investigators, who found a tactical helmet with a GoPro camera and mount in the dumpster outside, according to the filing. 

Also in the dumpster, special agents found a smashed-up laptop, tablet and Xbox gaming console, which “appeared calculated to delay or prevent the government from gaining a full understanding of the seriousness and scale of his conduct,” the filing said. Teixeira also messaged others on social media saying, “delete all messages” and if “anyone comes looking, don’t tell them shit,” it added.

His legal team has indicated it wants him to be released to his father's home, his secondary residence, the filing said. "Even if the Defendant’s devices are removed from his father’s home, his father certainly cannot be expected to spend every moment monitoring his son’s access to electronic devices," it said, adding that his expertise in computers would make him even harder to monitor.

Teixeira was suspended from high school in 2018 for making comments about Molotov cocktails, guns and racial threats, remarks he later attributed to him talking about a video game, the document said.

Those comments led to an application for a firearms ID the same year being rejected, it said. He reapplied in November 2020, saying in his application letter that he had since "grown as a person" and that he intended to be an "outstanding airman" and an "upstanding citizen."

Last week, a judge granted a request by the defendant's legal team to delay the hearing so it could have more time to address the prosecutors' case.