According to officials, the leader of an online network suspected of leaking US military documents is national guardsman Jack Teixeira.
Jack Teixeira, 21, is reported to have oversaw a private internet group with roughly 25 active members where the confidential data were shared.
According to interviews and records obtained by The New York Times, he is a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard’s intelligence wing.
Officials informed Sky News’ US partner network, NBC News, that they have been on the hunt for him for some time and that an arrest is inevitable.
It comes after US Vice President Joe Biden stated that he is “concerned” about the multiple leaks that have rocked the Pentagon.
While their veracity has been called into question, the stolen documents purport to highlight potential gaps in Ukraine’s defenses as well as the amount of UK special troops allegedly stationed in the nation.
While Mr. Biden was “concerned” that sensitive information had been leaked, he added, “there’s nothing contemporaneous that I’m aware of that is of great consequence.”
He noted there was a “full-blown” investigation by the intelligence community and the US Justice Department. “We’re getting close,” he said, on the probe into what happened.
“But I don’t have an answer.”
Known as “OG” in the Discord chatroom, the suspect behind the leaks allegedly claimed to spend parts of his day inside a secure facility where phones were banned, according to a story published by the Washington Post.
He began by typing up versions of highly classified documents and releasing them for the group’s 25 active members from various countries to see, but subsequently turned to posting a flurry of images of the documents themselves.
According to another user of the Discord discussion interviewed by the Post, in addition to providing state secrets, OG would foresee important events before they became top news.
How were the documents leaked?
The Pentagon is on the hunt for the perpetrator, and the scope of the incident has been compared to the Edward Snowden leaks of 2013.
Several ideas have developed on how the highly sensitive documents became public, including a possible Russian breach.
However, defence and security expert Professor Michael Clarke believes the leak could be related to the amount of persons in the US who have access to confidential material.
Unlike the UK, which has a “need to know” policy in relation to intelligence information, in the US they have a “dare to share” philosophy which means an estimated 1.3 million people have access to secret and top secret documents.
“But if 1.3 million people have got access to some form of secret material then even a small proportion – 0.1% of those people – if they are geeks who want to be a bigshot amongst their friends, as this person probably did…then some people like that will emerge from the system.”