This image made from video provided by WCVB-TV, shows Jack Teixeira, in T-shirt and shorts, being taken into custody by armed tactical agents on Thursday, April 13, 2023, in Dighton, Mass. Image Credit: AP

Washington: The US Air National Guardsman charged with the most damaging intelligence disclosures in a decade tried to cover his tracks by destroying computer equipment and warning an online gaming associate to delete their messages and not talk to investigators, US prosecutors said.

“[i]f anyone comes looking, don’t tell them” anything, the government claims Jack Teixeira told his friend in a message that ended with an expletive.

Teixeira poses an ongoing risk to national security and should not be released on bail, prosecutors wrote in a filing late Wednesday in Boston federal court, saying his own “obstructive and deceptive acts” make him a flight risk and a danger.

Teixeira’s attorneys denied he is a flight risk in a filing Thursday morning and said the government’s arguments against his release are based on “hyperbolic judgments.”

Claims that Teixeira might be courted by a foreign power to release additional classified documents is “little more than speculation,” the defence told the court .

The airman no longer has access to classified information and would agree not to use the internet if released on bond to the custody of his father Jack Teixeira Sr, the defence said.

Teixeira, 21, is scheduled to appear at a detention hearing Thursday afternoon in Worcester, Massachusetts, after being charged this month with illegally accessing and disseminating classified national defence information. The materials he is accused of taking include sensitive battlefield information about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and revelations that the US eavesdropped on allies such as South Korea.

US Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira
Photo evidence collected during the investigation into US Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira, who is accused of leaking classified documents online, is released in a document by the US Department of Justice. Image Credit: Department of Justice/ via REUTERS

“Following his arrest, authorities searched a dumpster at his residence and found a tablet, a laptop, and an Xbox gaming console, all of which had been smashed,” the government said.

The Biden administration has faced a challenge explaining how a young, relatively junior airman had access to highly sensitive information and was able to disseminate it online for months without detection.

“If the defendant were released, it would be all too easy for him to further disseminate classified information and would create the unacceptable risk that he would flee the United States and take refuge with a foreign adversary to avoid the reach of US law,” the government said in Wednesday’s filing.

The government included photos they said were taken in Teixeira’s bedroom, which show a gun locker next to his bed, allegedly holding an arsenal of weapons. They included handguns, bolt-action rifles, shotguns, an AK-style high-capacity weapon, and a gas mask. Ammunition and tactical pouches were found on his dresser along with what the government said appeared to be “a silencer-style accessory” in his desk drawer.

The agents also reviewed 40,000 messages Teixiera posted in an online platform in recent months, the US said, many of them disturbing.

“I hope isis goes through with their attack plan and creates a massacre at the World Cup,” he wrote on Nov. 23, the government said.

In March, Teixeira allegedly expressed on the platform how much he hated school and wrote, “2nd semester in and I already want to bomb the place.”

He was suspended from school in 2018 over remarks a classmate claimed he made about “Molotov cocktails, guns at the school, and racial threats,” the government said. Teixiera told school officials the remarks were in reference to video games and were not threats, the US said.

FBI agents said they also found Teixiera conducted hundreds of computer searches across an intelligence system dating back to February 26, 2022.

He searched subjects related to Russia’s attack on Ukraine and also searched the terms: “Ruby Ridge”; “Las Vegas shooting”; Mandalay Bay shooting”; Buffalo tops shooting”; and “Uvalde,” according to the agents.