(Washington) A 21-year-old soldier, Jack Teixeira, suspected of being the source of the leak of a series of confidential American documents on the war in Ukraine, which embarrasses Washington, was indicted on Friday by the federal court.

This Air National Guard recruit, presented Friday in federal court in Boston, was charged with “unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information”, and “unauthorized removal and retention of documents or classified materials,” according to a court document.

He is suspected of having posed a “very serious” risk to the national security of the United States, according to the Pentagon, by disclosing confidential documents online about the war in Ukraine and which also suggest that Washington collects intelligence on its most important close allies, including Israel and South Korea. A most embarrassing affair for the government of President Joe Biden.

Television channels broadcast aerial footage on a loop Thursday showing his arrest. We could see a man, hands on his head and wearing a gray t-shirt and red shorts, slowly retreating towards armed officers and in camouflage before being arrested and then escorted to a vehicle.

Joe Biden, visiting Ireland, has been kept informed of the arrest, according to the White House. “I’m concerned this happened,” he said earlier of the leaked secret documents that the US Department of Justice has opened a criminal investigation into.

The Washington Post daily reported on Wednesday that the leak was the work of a young man who worked on a military base, who shared his information on a private online group on the social network Discord. Under the pseudonym “OG”, the suspect is said to have published documents from the military base where he works for months.

The National Guard said Jack Teixeira enlisted in September 2019, worked as a computer and communications specialist and achieved the rank of Airman First Class, the third lowest in the hierarchy.

“OG” had asked other members of the Discord group not to distribute the materials, saying he had no intention of being a whistleblower, according to the Washington Post. He was critical of the state — whose “abuse of power” he denounced — law enforcement and the intelligence community.

The group, made up of around 24 people, including some from Russia and Ukraine, was formed in 2020 around their mutual passion for firearms, military equipment and religion. Jack Teixeira was the leader of the group, reported The New York Times.

According to The Washington Post, “OG” allegedly told other members of the group that he had work-related access to “a secure facility that prohibits cell phones and other electronic devices.”

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the United States was examining the “implications” of the leak “for national security.” The Pentagon has also decided to further restrict access to this type of sensitive information, Jean-Pierre told reporters.

The spokeswoman added that the US government wants social networks to “avoid facilitating” the distribution of such confidential materials, believing that they have “a responsibility to their users and to the country.”

A Discord spokesperson told AFP that the safety of its users was the platform’s priority, ensuring that it cooperated with law enforcement.

The fact that these documents are circulating online represents “a very serious risk to national security and has the potential to fuel disinformation”, said on Monday a spokesman for the United States Department of Defense, Chris Meagher.

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in a statement on Thursday hailed the “swift arrest” of the suspect, adding that he had ordered an “audit of access to our intelligence […] and vetting procedures within the department to better guide our efforts to prevent this kind of incident from happening again.”

The documents posted online reveal in particular the concerns of the American intelligence services about the viability of a Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russian forces.

A document reviewed by AFP also noted US concerns about Ukraine’s ability to continue to defend against Russian strikes.

Dozens of photos of these documents have been relayed on Discord, but also Twitter and Telegram, some having undoubtedly circulated for weeks, if not months, before attracting the attention of the press.

However, US authorities have not publicly confirmed the authenticity of these documents posted online, and it has not yet been independently verified.

Many of these documents are no longer available on the sites where they originally appeared.

From the 1971 “Pentagon Papers” to Thursday’s arrest of a young man suspected of being behind recent leaks of Pentagon documents, the United States has repeatedly been rocked by leaks of classified documents. Here are the most emblematic cases:

Daniel Ellsberg, a former US civil servant, leaked thousands of secret Pentagon documents in 1971, revealing that several US governments had lied about the Vietnam War that they could not win.

The New York Times began publishing the documents before President Richard Nixon’s administration obtained a federal court injunction to stop it on national security grounds.

The Washington Post newspaper takes over despite the risk of reprisals.

This case has been chronicled in several Hollywood films, including “Pentagon Papers” (2017) by Steven Spielberg.

Daniel Ellsberg is prosecuted by the Nixon administration, but ultimately benefits from a dismissal due to multiple irregularities during the investigation. This whistleblower announced in March 2023 that he had “three to six months to live” due to cancer.

Australian Julian Assange launched his WikiLeaks site in 2006, but it wasn’t until 2010 that he became the source of one of the first leaks of the digital age.

On February 18, 2010, WikiLeaks publishes a diplomatic note from the US Embassy in Iceland. This is the first information that Chelsea Manning, who then worked for military intelligence in Iraq and bore the first name of Bradley, admits having disclosed.

The young transsexual soldier also admitted “the intentional transmission” of a video – because it “horrified” him – showing civilians falling in July 2007 under fire from an American combat helicopter in Iraq.

From November 2010 to September 2011, more than 250,000 State Department cables from US embassies and consulates abroad and dating from 1966 to 2010 are partially published by five international daily newspapers: Le Monde, The New York Times , The Guardian, Der Spiegel, El País.

More than 90,000 documents relating to the war in Afghanistan were released in July 2010, followed in October by nearly 400,000 more related to the conflict in Iraq, including confidential Pentagon reports revealing abuse, torture and murder among civilians.

In August 2013, Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison by court martial. She was released after seven years on a sentence commuted by President Barack Obama.

Julian Assange, arrested by British police in 2019 after taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy for seven years, is awaiting the hearing of his appeal against a decision to extradite him to the United States.

Edward Snowden, consultant for the NSA (American National Security Agency), provides the press with tens of thousands of documents showing the extent of the surveillance carried out by this organization.

On June 5, 2013, the British daily The Guardian broke the case by revealing that the NSA had collected millions of telephone data from the American operator Verizon, following the decision of a secret court.

The revelations follow one another in the international press: massive interceptions of telephone metadata (schedules, duration, numbers called) and emails, monitoring of social networks, spying on large foreign companies and offices of the European Union, listening to the conversations of leaders foreigners (German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, the Mexican government, etc.).

The allies of the United States are ulcerated. Barack Obama assures that the programs in question are legal, but promises more transparency and the American Congress will reform the laws on electronic surveillance.

Charged in the United States with espionage and theft of state documents, Edward Snowden has been living as a refugee in Russia since 2013.