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Pentagon leaks suspect to remain detained as he awaits trial

<i>Margaret Small</i><br/>Jack Teixeira
Margaret Small
Jack Teixeira

By Hannah Rabinowitz, CNN

Worcester, Massachusetts (CNN) — Jack Teixeira, the Air National Guardsman who is accused of posting a trove of classified documents to social media, will be detained while he awaits trial, a federal judge ruled Friday while saying the suspect has a “lack of integrity.”

Magistrate Judge David Hennessy had been considering whether Teixeira would continue to be held behind bars for weeks, as prosecutors and defense lawyers repeatedly battled over whether the 21-year-old Massachusetts native posed a continued threat to national security.

“What the record at this point shows is a profound breach of the defendant’s word that he would protect information and the security of the United States and its allies,” Hennessy said during a hearing Friday.

The decision is a major win for prosecutors, who have argued that the airman callously handled highly sensitive national security information during his short tenure in the National Guard.

In delivering his ruling, Hennessy stressed that Teixeira put countless people in the US and abroad “at risk” in allegedly leaking the documents.

“Who did he put at risk? You can make a list as long as a phone book: soldiers, medical personnel … Ukrainian personnel, Ukrainian soldiers,” Hennessy said. “We don’t know how many people he put at risk. I’m not making any judgment on this information … but the government has said if you disclose this information, you put the United States serious risk.”

“And the defendant’s response to that was, ‘IDGAF,’” the judge said, invoking language Teixeira used in messages discussing leaking the documents.

Teixeira was arrested on April 14 and has been 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 not yet entered a formal plea. His defense lawyers have argued he didn’t expect classified information that he posted on Discord to be further spread around the internet.

As Hennessy ruled, Teixeira sat still between two of his lawyers. Feet behind him sat more than half a dozen of his family members, watching the judge intently.

Teixeira’s family released a statement later Friday saying they were “disappointed with the outcome” of the hearing.

“As a family, we are as committed as ever and remain steadfast and determined in our complete support of Jack as we continue to wade through this process,” the family said.

In recent court documents arguing for Teixeira’s continued detention, prosecutors said that new evidence in the government’s investigation “belies the defendant’s efforts to minimize his criminal conduct and undercuts the defendant’s claim that he can be trusted to adhere to 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 that show Teixeira’s superiors were aware of three separate instances of him looking at classified intelligence that was not related to his work.

In court on Friday, Hennessy said that he agreed.

“I don’t say this to beat up on the defendant, but the defendant’s lack of integrity” gave him pause, Hennessy said.

Teixeira’s lawyers had previously said that prosecutors were being “hyperbolic” in their assessment of whether Teixeira could risk further compromising classified information, and while Hennessy said he struggled over the allegations sounding “like a spy novel or something,” he ultimately felt the risk was too great to release Teixeira.

“This information is going out and the defendant has no idea to whom it is going,” Hennessy said. “It is for that reason I really struggled – and it in some way makes this case different. “I have a defendant before me who I feel confident would follow conditions if I were to release him. But then I look at him and I think if I’m wrong, what are the consequences of my decision?”

This story has been updated with additional details Friday.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Devan Cole and Kaanita Iyer contributed to this report.

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