Jack Teixeira, the Air National Guardsman accused of posting a trove of classified documents on social media, will be jailed while he awaits trial, a federal judge ruled Friday while saying the suspect has “lack of of integrity.”
Magistrate Judge David Hennessy considered whether Teixeira would remain behind bars for weeks, as prosecutors and defense attorneys wrestled back and forth over whether the 21-year-old Massachusetts native Massachusetts poses a continuing threat to national security.
“What the record shows at this point is a profound violation of the defendant’s word that he would protect the information and the security of the United States and its allies,” Hennessy said at a hearing Friday.
The decision was a major victory for prosecutors, who argued that the airman carelessly handled highly sensitive national security information during his brief tenure in the National Guard.
In handing down his verdict, Hennessy stressed that Teixeira put countless people in the US and abroad “at risk” with the alleged leaking of the documents.
“Who did he put in danger? You can make a list as long as a phone book: soldiers, medical personnel … Ukrainian personnel, Ukrainian soldiers,” said Hennessy. “We don’t know how many people he put in danger. I don’t have judge this information … but the government says if you disclose this information, you put the United States at risk.”
“And the defendant’s response to that was, ‘IDGAF,'” the judge said, using the language used by Teixeira in messages referring to the leaking of documents.
Teixeira was arrested on April 14 and charged under the Espionage Act with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information and unauthorized removal of classified information and defense materials.
Teixeira has yet to enter a formal plea. His defense attorneys argued that he did not expect the classified information he posted on Discord to spread further on the internet.
As Hennessy ruled, Teixeira sat between two of his lawyers. Feet behind him sat more than half a dozen of his family members, looking intently at the judge.
In recent court documents arguing for Teixeira’s continued imprisonment, prosecutors said new evidence in the government’s investigation “confirms the defendant’s efforts to minimize his criminal behavior and undermines the defendant’s claim that he can be trusted to comply with the conditions of release imposed by the court.”
Prosecutors alleged that Teixeira showed a “willful disregard” of his military obligation to protect classified information, pointing to Air Force memos showing that Teixeira’s superiors were aware of three various times he looked at classified intelligence unrelated to his work.
In court Friday, Hennessy said he agreed.
“I don’t say this to bash the accused, but the lack of integrity of the accused” gave him pause, said Hennessy.
Teixeira’s lawyers previously said prosecutors were “hyperbolic” in their assessment of whether Teixeira would be a risk of further compromising classified information, and while Hennessy said he was fighting the allegations “like a spy novel or something,” he finally felt the risk was too great to let Teixeira go.
“This information gets out and the defendant has no idea who it’s going to,” Hennessy said. “It is for this reason that I am struggling – and this in some ways makes this case different. “I have an accused in front of me who I feel confident will comply with the conditions if I release him. But I looked at him and I thought that if I was wrong, what would be the consequences of my decision?
This story was updated with more details on Friday.