The FBI has arrested an employee of the US Air Force National Guard over the leaks online of classified US documents that embarrassed Washington with allies around the world.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland said the FBI arrested the man, Jack Teixeira, “in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defence information.”
The FBI said its agents had made an arrest and were conducting “authorized law enforcement activity at a residence in North Dighton, Massachusetts.”
Video images played on news channels showed heavily armed officers in Massachusetts accompanying a young man wearing a grey t-shirt and bright red shorts into a waiting car. His head was bowed and his hair was close-cropped.
The leaks were a “deliberate, criminal act,” the Pentagon said. Pentagon spokesman Brigadier General Pat Ryder referred questions about the investigation to the Department of Justice.
Some of the most sensitive leaked details are purportedly related to Ukraine’s military capabilities and shortcomings, and information about U.S. allies including Israel, South Korea and Turkey.
President Joe Biden earlier on Thursday said investigators were closing in on the source of the online leaks in what is believed to be the most serious security breach in years.
The New York Times earlier reported that Teixeira was a National Guardsman who led Thug Shaker Central, an online group where about 20 to 30 people shared their love of guns, racist memes and video games. The Times cited interviews and documents it reviewed.