It has been revealed that the FBI used the billing records of an internet social media application to identify US airman Jack Teixeira, as a suspect in relation to the leakage of top-secret documents.
In court documents released on Friday, investigators revealed that they identified the 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman using information from the Discord chat platform.
It is believed that the leak began on servers used by many people to play online games.
Liveblog: Outside court as US secret leak suspect Jack Teixeira was charged
The classified information ranges from military briefings mapping out positions in Ukraine to considerations of when Russian President Vladimir Putin may use nuclear weapons.
According to a FBI affidavit that was unsealed Friday, Discord stated it cooperated with the bureau.
According to the document, on Monday, FBI agents interviewed a person who was not named and familiar with Teixeira’s postings.
People who claim to have chatted with Teixeira say that he is “at the core” of a channel private called Thug Shaker Central. He allegedly posts about games, memes, guns and jokes.
Anonymous person informed the FBI that a username associated with Teixeira posted what appeared to classified information in December last year.
The affidavit indicates that Teixeira was typing documents in his possession, but began taking them home to photograph them when he became “concerned” he might be found making transcriptions at work.
Others, however, said that the user nicknamed “the O.G.” – also called “original,” or “founder” in some groups – was posting documents which he claimed were classified for months.
It is claimed that the O.G. started posting images because it was upset other people didn’t take them seriously.
According to the affidavit, Teixeira’s presence was discovered on 6 April – the day that the New York Times published the first story about classified documents leaked.
After a weeklong investigation into the leak of highly sensitive government documents, he was arrested by tactical agents heavily armed on Thursday.
Learn more about Jack Teixeira.
Who is this 21-year old national guardsman accused of leaking US intelligence?
US pressured as Pentagon vows tighter security
Members of the family sob in court
The 21-year old appeared in front of a federal magistrate at a Boston court on Friday. He was charged with possession of unclassified documents related to national security, and possessing materials for national defence.
Before the defendant entered the courtroom, family members were seen sobbing and comforting each other.
US marshals ushered him into the court in a brown jumpsuit.
The judge ordered that he remain in jail until the 19th April, when a hearing for detention will be held.
Officials have not authenticated the documents that were leaked.
An official with the US Department of Defence said Teixeira may have been able to obtain a higher security clearance because he was an IT specialist in charge of military communication networks.
US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the Pentagon would now review its procedures for accessing, controlling and accounting for intelligence in order to prevent a similar leak.