Suspect charged with Pentagon leaks was outed by his Steam profile

The trail of evidence included Instagram and a granite countertop.


Accused classified document leaker Jack Teixeira may be learning first-hand about the ease of tracking people's digital lives. The federal government has charged Teixeira with illegally taking national defense info and classified items after a quick investigation focused on his digital trail. As The New York Times' Christiaan Triebert explains, his investigative journalism team identified Teixeira by finding an Instagram account mentioned in his Steam profile. That, in turn, showed photos of the granite kitchen countertop and floor tiles visible in the leaks.

The suspect hasn't yet entered a plea and will face a hearing on April 19th. The two charges against him carry a maximum combined sentence of up to 15 years in prison.

Teixeira, an Air National Guardsman in Massachusetts, allegedly began sharing the documents on a Minecraft-oriented Discord server in late 2022. He initially transcribed them himself but later posted photos of the raw material. He supposedly didn't intend to act as a whistleblower (he was trying to impress his gaming friends), but the content eventually reached other Discord servers as well as 4chan and Telegram.

The documents include large volumes of information about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, including Ukraine's strategy as well as Russia's bids to secure weapons from Egypt and Turkey. The files also show how the US spies on allies and otherwise monitors their activity, such as interest in UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

The FBI arrested Teixeira the afternoon of April 13th. The case has raised questions about the ease of access to classified material in the US military. Teixeira is an Airman First Class who serves as a Cyber Transport Systems Journeyman — effectively, technical support. The Washington Post notes Teixeira could nonetheless use the Pentagon's Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System, granting him access to top secret intelligence like that from the leak.

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