Law enforcement officials arrested a 21-year-old on Thursday after tracing a trove of classified secrets that found their way to the public through the chat app Discord.
The suspect, U.S. Air Force National Guard member Jack Teixeira, was identified by The New York Times prior to his arrest. Teixeira reportedly led a private Discord group where a small group of men posted memes and discussed shared interests, including gaming, racist jokes and guns.
“Today the Justice Department arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified national defense information,” Attorney General Merrick Garland confirmed in a press conference on Thursday afternoon.
Teixeira will have his first appearance in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts.
According to The Washington Post, the classified documents originated in a small Discord server known as “Thug Shaker Central,” a meme reference. By February, a member of that Discord group started sharing the material in a broader Discord server called “wow_mao.” A month later they showed up in a Minecraft channel with thousands of members.
Thursday’s arrest came relatively swiftly. But the cache of intelligence documents, which included many previously secret, sensitive details about the war in Ukraine, had been circulating online for months prior to the U.S. catching on. That fact has raised alarm within the federal government, which could expand the scope of social media services that it monitors in response.
This story is developing…