Authorities identify Massachusetts Air National Guard member as person of interest in classified docs leak

Authorities have identified a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard as a person of interest in the investigation into classified documents leaked over the Discord social media platform in recent months, sources told ABC News Thursday.

The New York Times has reported the name of this person. ABC News is not naming the individual at this time and has reached out to the family of the person of interest. The family has not responded to multiple requests for comment.

The FBI has made significant progress in identifying the person suspected of leaking classified documents over the Discord social media platform in recent months, sources tell ABC News. Authorities are working toward building a prosecutable case and identifying all those who may have had unauthorized access to the materials and been involved in the disclosures.

Media reports have described the documents as being shared among a small group of users on Discord before getting wider notice. The Washington Post interviewed one person who say says he was part of the group believes the alleged leaker, who goes by the moniker “OG,” works on a military base.

President Joe Biden broke his silence Thursday on the leak of apparently highly classified documents after the Washington Post report.Biden told reporters in Dublin that the Justice Department was “getting close” in its criminal investigation into how the U.S. intelligence documents — which seem to contain top-secret information about the Ukraine war and other parts of the world — ended up online.

“Right now there’s a full-blown investigation going on and, you know, with the intelligence community and the Justice Department, and they’re getting close,” Biden said when asked if he could provide an update on the probe. “But I don’t have an answer.”

The disclosure has raised diplomatic issues that U.S. intelligence has been spying on its allies as well as its adversaries. Asked about whether he was concerned about the leak, Biden played down its potential impact.

“I’m concerned that it happened,” Biden said. “But there is nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence.”

President Joe Biden listens as he meets with Ireland’s Prime Minister (Taoiseach) Leo Varadkar at Farmleigh House, in Dublin, April 13, 2023.

Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

The Washington Post is reporting the person behind the leak is a man who worked on a military base. The newspaper characterized him as “young, charismatic gun enthusiast” who began disseminating the documents in a private server group on Discord last fall.

The Washington Post cited an interview with a teenager who said he was part of the group, which he joined at the start of the pandemic and said contained roughly two dozen members, some from foreign countries.

The teen referred to the leaker as “OG” and said he was in his early to mid-20s, though the minor denied to share his real name, where he lived or the military base where he worked. The minor said “OG” had dubious views of law enforcement and the intelligence community, and would rant about “government overreach.”

Washington Post reporter Shane Harris described the leaker as someone who was “trying to impress his friends,” and the newspaper said it was unlikely he intended for the documents to spread across the internet.

ABC News has not independently confirmed the report.

A Pentagon spokesman, when asked for comment on the Washington Post report, referred ABC News to comments made by Department of Defense spokesman Chris Meagher during a press briefing on Monday.

Meagher said at the time that the department was “working around the clock to look at the scope and scale of the distribution, the assessed impact and our mitigation measures.” He did not elaborate on whether investigators were narrowing in on who was behind it.

A senior U.S. official told ABC News Thursday highly sensitive material has been shared too widely within the government for some time. The official had no information on the source of this leak but called it “a massive betrayal” by whoever is responsible.

PHOTO: The Pentagon is seen from the air in Washington, March 3, 2022.

The Pentagon is seen from the air in Washington, March 3, 2022.

Joshua Roberts/Reuters, FILE

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, in his first public comments on the leak, also said he was limited in what he could say about the matter amid the DOJ’s investigation.

He told reporters he was first informed of the apparent leak on April 6, after some documents were posted on popular social media sites, and that investigators were focusing on documents dated Feb. 28 and March 1.

“We take this very seriously and we will continue to investigate and turn over every rock until we find the source of this and the extent of it,” Austin said.

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