The Washington Post published an article on Thursday in which it claims to have obtained information on the person responsible for the online release of dozens of classified documents from the US Department of Defense.
According to the Washington Post, the person is a gun enthusiast who worked at a military base and who administered an online group on Discord, a popular messaging platform among gamers.
According to the New York Times, the person is a 21-year-old member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard: Jack Teixeira.
Jack Teixeira in a photo posted by his mother on social media. (New York Times)
The Washington Post interviewed a teenager who was part of the online group along with about twenty other people united "by a love of guns, military equipment, and God". The teenager spoke on condition of anonymity.
Last year, the man behind the leak - referred to as "OG" - began sharing messages full of acronyms written in specialized language.
The words were unfamiliar and few people read that first long note which was followed by hundreds more. The messages looked like almost literal transcripts of classified intelligence documents, according to the teenager interviewed by the Washington Post.
OG - whom the other members greatly admired - claimed to know secrets that the government kept from ordinary people and which he said to have obtained because he worked on a "military base".
OG said he spent part of his day inside a facility in which cell phones and other electronic devices were prohibited. He started by transcriptioning some of the confidential documents by hand, trying to make some passages understandable. He explained to his friends that "NOFORN" meant that the information in the document was so sensitive that it could not be shared with foreign nationals.
A member of the Discord group where classified intelligence documents were posted during an interview. (Screenshot from a video recorded by The Washington Post)
OG told the group that he had worked for hours transcribing the documents. When manual transcription became fatiguing he began posting photos of those same documents.
The Washington Post examined about 300 photos of those classified documents, three times the number thought to be circulating. The newspaper also saw some of the documents transcribed by OG, the audio recording of a man that the two group members identified as OG talking to his friends, and some parts of the chats in which OG communicates with the group. The newspaper also saw the video of a man identified as OG while he is at a range with a rifle. In the video OG can be seen firing some gunshots at a target and then heard shouting some racist slurs.
According to the teenagers interviewed by the Washington Post, OG was not hostile to the US government. They insisted that he was not a foreign agent. "He is not a Russian agent. He is not a Ukrainian agent," said one of the teenagers.
The channel on the Discord server where OG shared some photos of the documents was named “Bear vs Pig”, which is a reference to the war in Ukraine.
According to the teenager interviewed by the Washington Post, OG had "a dark view of the government". OG described it as a repressive force that hides the truth from its citizens.
Throughout the winter, OG uploaded confidential documents for his group. Everyone understood that they didn't have to share them elsewhere. Unbeknownst to them, on February 28, another user of the "Thug Shaker Central" server began posting several dozen photographs showing the documents on "WowMao", a Discord server dedicated to fans of Filipino YouTuber Wow_Mao.
On March 4, ten documents where posted on “Minecraft Earth Map”, another Discord server. Finally, in the last of march, the documents appeared on some Russian Telegram channels, on 4chan, and on Twitter.
Image pixelated by Bellingcat.
OG stopped sharing images in mid-March and he rejoined the group just before the New York Times reported the news of the leak of the classified documents. The teenager interviewed by the Washington Post said he has been in contact with OG in recent days too but not on "Thug Shaker Central" channel, which has been closed. According to the teenager, OG "seemed very confused and lost. He is fully aware of what is happening and what the consequences might be." He also said that OG "is not sure how to resolve this situation. He looks quite upset".
In his final message to his companions, OG asked them to "delete any information that might relate to him," including any additional copies of classified documents.
Jack Teixeira - OG - was arrested on Thursday, April 13, by the FBI while he was at his home in North Dighton, Massachusetts.
Edited by: Ritaja Kar
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