Does the Pentagon have the culprit? A young man was arrested Thursday in the United States as part of the investigation into the leak of confidential US documents, a case posing a "very serious" risk to national security according to the Pentagon. The suspect, Air National Guard employee Jack Teixeira, "was apprehended without incident" and is scheduled to appear in Massachusetts state court shortly, Attorney General Merrick Garland told a briefing conference. press.
The arrest, announced by American media before being confirmed by the authorities, took place in Dighton, a small rural town south of Boston, Massachusetts.
"There is a full investigation underway (...) and they are getting closer" to the outcome, US President Joe Biden said earlier during a visit to Ireland. "I'm concerned this happened," he added. The US Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation after the documents leaked online, which detail Washington's views on the war in Ukraine and appear to indicate intelligence gathering on close US allies.
The Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the leak was the work of a young man who worked on a military base, who shared his information on a private online group on the social network Discord. Under the pseudonym "OG", the suspect is said to have published documents from the military base where he works for months.
OG had asked the other members of the group not to distribute the documents, saying he had no intention of being a whistleblower, the Washington Post quoted one of its sources as saying. He was critical of the state - whose "abuse of power" he denounced - law enforcement and the intelligence community.
The group, made up of around twenty people, was formed in 2020 around their mutual passion for firearms, military equipment and religion. White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the United States was examining the "implications" of the leak "for national security."
The Pentagon has also decided to further restrict access to this type of sensitive information, Karine Jean-Pierre told the press on the sidelines of Joe Biden's trip to Ireland.
The spokeswoman added that the US government wants social networks to "avoid facilitating" the distribution of such confidential material, believing that they have "a responsibility to their users and to the country."
A spokesperson for Discord told Agence France Presse that the safety of its users is the platform's priority and that any content violating its rules could lead to the exclusion of the offender, the closure of discussion groups and to report to the authorities. The company also said it is cooperating with law enforcement regarding the leaks. The fact that these documents are circulating online represents "a very serious risk to national security and has the potential to fuel disinformation", said Monday a spokesman for the United States Department of Defense, Chris Meagher.
The documents posted online reveal in particular the concerns of the American intelligence services as to the viability of a Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russian forces. A document reviewed by Agence France Presse also noted US concerns about Ukraine's ability to continue to defend against Russian strikes. Dozens of photos of these documents have been relayed on Discord, but also Twitter and Telegram, some having undoubtedly circulated for weeks, if not months, before attracting the attention of the press.
However, US authorities have not publicly confirmed the authenticity of these documents posted online, and it has not yet been independently verified. Many of these documents are no longer available on the sites where they originally appeared, and US authorities are working to have them all removed.