The 21-year-old arrested in connection with the leaked documents probe has been charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and willful retention of classified documents, which collectively carry a maximum of 15 years in prison.
Jack Teixeira, a member of the Massachusetts Air Force National Guard, made his initial appearance before a federal magistrate in Boston on Friday morning.
Teixeira walked into court in a beige smock and pants with a black T-shirt underneath. He entered in handcuffs, which were removed before he sat at the defense table with his attorney. Teixeira appeared to briefly scan the crowd while in his seat.
Three people sat on a bench in the front row reserved for relatives of the defendant.
As Teixeira was re-handcuffed and led from court, someone in the front row called out, “Love you, Jack.” The 21-year-old responded, “Love you, too, dad.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nadine Pellegrini sought pretrial detention, which was granted pending the outcome of a hearing on Wednesday.
Teixeira was taken into custody in Massachusetts on Thursday “in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified national defense information,” Attorney General Merrick Garland announced.
Media reports have described the U.S. intelligence documents — which seem to contain top-secret information about the Ukraine war and other parts of the world — as being shared among a small group of users on Discord before getting wider notice.
The criminal complaint alleges Teixeira “improperly and unlawfully retained and transmitted national defense information to people not authorized to receive it.”
On Monday, the FBI interviewed an unidentified member of the Discord chatroom where Teixeira allegedly posted classified documents, according to the charging documents. That individual provided the FBI with information that the alleged leaker went by “Jack,” appeared to live in Massachusetts and had claimed he was a member of the Air National Guard. He also said he’d chatted with him on video and that the suspect was “a white male who was clean-cut in appearance and between 20 and 30 years old,” according to the charging documents.
While Discord is not mentioned by name, the complaint indicates the platform helped the FBI by providing the credentials behind the account associated with the leak.
According to the complaint, Teixeira accessed a government document on Feb. 23 and posted it the following day. It’s the disclosure of that document that forms the basis of the initial charges.
President Joe Biden in a statement Friday said he commended “the rapid action taken by law enforcement to investigate and respond to the recent dissemination of classified U.S. government documents.”
“While we are still determining the validity of those documents, I have directed our military and intelligence community to take steps to further secure and limit distribution of sensitive information, and our national security team is closely coordinating with our partners and allies,” Biden said.
ABC News’ Emily Shapiro and Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.