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Intel leak suspect was caught twice taking notes on classified info but allowed to keep access, prosecutors say

Jack Teixeira was seen taking notes on classified intelligence information and putting them in his pocket, Justice Department lawyers alleged in court filings Wednesday.
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The Air National Guardsman accused of one of the most significant intelligence leaks in years was warned repeatedly by superiors about his handling of classified information, yet his access to secrets was allowed to continue, court filings by prosecutors revealed Wednesday.

Justice Department lawyers said Jack Teixeira was twice caught taking notes about classified documents and was also observed accessing information that was not relevant to his job.

The prosecutors made the court filings to urge a judge to keep Teixeira behind bars before his trial. The judge has not ruled on whether Teixeira can be held without bond, and a second hearing has been set for Friday.

Teixeira, 21, an airman first class who was assigned to the 102nd Intelligence Wing, is accused of leaking top-secret Defense Department documents on Discord, a social media platform primarily used by online gamers. The case has sparked furor internationally, leading to questions about America’s ability to guard its secrets.

Teixeira, who has not entered a plea, was arrested April 13 and could face a prison sentence upward of 25 years if he is convicted, previous court filings by the prosecution have said.

In September, six months before his detention, Teixeira was seen “taking notes on classified intelligence information” before he put the notes into his pocket, according to an Air Force memo written at the time, which prosecutors submitted to the court Wednesday.

Teixeira’s superiors asked him whether he intended to share the notes before they told him at a meeting to “no longer take notes in any form on classified intelligence information,” the memo said.

A month later, another Air Force memo said the airman had failed to do that, “potentially ignoring the cease-and-desist order on deep diving into intelligence information” when he asked “very specific questions” at an internal briefing. He was told to focus on his job, it said, and to stop making "deep dives" into classified information.

Finally, in February, a colleague saw Teixeira operating a machine connected to the Pentagon’s Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communication System, its internal system for sharing confidential information, a third Air Force memo said. He was seen “viewing content that was not related to his primary duty” and was instead “related to the intelligence field,” it said.

Two of Teixeira's commanders have been suspended from duty.

In their filing, prosecutors also acknowledge that the background check for his security clearance failed to detect “the significant volume of racist, antisemitic, and violent rhetoric he posted online.”

The filing is signed by Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Rachael Rollins, who has announced her intention to resign this week after having been found to have committed serious misconduct in office unrelated to the Teixeira case.

Prosecutors have previously called Teixeira “a serious flight risk” and warned that a “foreign adversary” could try to help him escape from the U.S. and give him safe haven.

Last month, a federal judge declined to immediately free him from custody but did not rule on the matter.

Teixeira’s lawyers submitted their own documents Wednesday, providing a list of eight defendants involved in other Espionage Act cases in which courts have approved their pretrial release.

Teixeira should not be compared with Edward Snowden, the exiled American who stole classified information from the National Security Agency, as the prosecution has sought to do, the defense team said. Snowden “fled the country” and was already in China at the time of his leak, it said, having “orchestrated a coordinated plan to seek asylum in other countries.”

The defense has also said there is no allegation Teixeira ever intended for documents to be distributed widely.

In response, the prosecution said in its memo that 150 users were on the server on which Teixeira is alleged to have shared his information and that it “now may have many more users that are actively seeking access to classified information.”

“Among the individuals with whom the Defendant shared government information are a number of individuals who represented that they resided in other countries and who logged on to the social media platform using foreign IP addresses,” the memo said.

In messages, Teixeira bragged about the scope of information he had access to, writing, “The information I give here is less than half of what’s available,” prosecutors said. He also acknowledged he was not supposed to be sharing the information, prosecutors said, writing in another message, “All of the s—- I’ve told you guys I’m not supposed to,” according to the Justice Department’s filing.

Teixeira is charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and with unauthorized removal and retention of classified documents or materials, according to court records. Prosecutors have called it “an incredibly large and damaging dissemination of classified national defense information” that America’s adversaries could use against it.

In another filing late last month, prosecutors said Teixeira had a history of making violent and racist remarks — including posting on social media about wanting to carry out a mass shooting — kept "an arsenal of weapons" and tactical gear at his house and tried to thwart federal investigators by apparently destroying evidence.