WORCESTER – Lawyers for Jack Teixeira, the Massachusetts Air National Guard member accused of leaking highly classified military documents, filed an appeal Monday of a magistrate judge’s order to keep him in jail. They say other defendants accused in national security cases, like former President Donald Trump, have not been ordered held like the 21-year-old from North Dighton.
Teixeira has been behind bars since his April arrest on charges stemming from the most consequential intelligence leak in years. A judge ruled in May that Teixeira must remain in jail while the case plays out, saying that he wasand releasing him would pose a risk that he would attempt to flee the country or obstruct justice.
In court papers, the defense attorneys argued that Teixeira has no financial ability or incentive to flee, and claimed the government “greatly overexaggerated Mr. Teixeira’s risk to national security.” The newly filed appeal cites Trump as well as cases of a former FBI Agent and Air Force veteran that involved “the most sensitive information our government possesses.”
Teixeira’s attorneys wrote that the “disparate approach” in his and Trump’s cases — which are both charged under the Espionage Act — shows that the government’s “argument for Mr. Teixeira’s detention on this basis is illusory.”
“The speculation that Mr. Teixeira is a flight risk by virtue of what he knows is squarely undermined by the government’s reasoned decision not to seek pretrial detention in other espionage cases, including most recently for either former President Donald Trump or his personal aid,both charged with, among other things, mishandling classified national security information and conspiracy to obstruct justice,” the appeal states.
The attorneys go on to argue that Trump and Nauta have “extraordinary means to flee the United States” as they face federal charges in connection with the investigation into the former president’s.
“Former President Trump and The Trump Organization own properties in multiple foreign countries, and former President Trump has access to a private plane,” they wrote. “Yet, the risk of flight posed by their knowledge of national security information, and their abnormal ability to flee, didn’t even result in a request that either surrender their passport.”
The appeal also says Teixera’s father’s home is “specially equipped” for his son to stay during pretrial proceedings, as all entrances are watched by a camera. The lawyers argue he is close to his parents, who have agreed to post their home as a bond for the case.
“Mr. Teixeira Sr.’s home is small, he maintains complete control over what internet capable devices can connect to the home’s Wi-Fi network, and monitors his house 24/7 with Ring cameras,” the appeal says. “If Mr. Teixeira were to flee, he would destroy his parents’ financial stability, rob them of their homes, and betray the support they have shown.”
Teixeira is accused of sharing classified military documents about Russia’s war in Ukraine and other sensitive national security topics on Discord, a social media platform popular with people playing online games.
Authorities say Teixeira, who is enlisted in the Air National Guard in 2019, began around January sharing military secrets with other Discord users — first by typing out classified documents and then sharing photographs of files that bore SECRET and TOP SECRET markings. Teixeira worked as aa “cyber transport systems specialist,” essentially an IT specialist responsible for military communications networks.
Authorities have provided few details about an alleged possible motive, but accounts of those in the online private chat group where the documents were disclosed have depicted Teixeira as motivated more by bravado than ideology.
The judge’s decision to detain Teixeira came after Justice Department lawyers revealed in court filings a history of disturbing online remarks. He wrote in November that he would “kill a (explosive) ton of people” if he had his way, because it would be “culling the weak minded.” Prosecutors also argued he said he may still have material that has not been released, which could be of “tremendous value to hostile nation states that could offer him safe harbor and attempt to facilitate his escape from the United States.”
Teixeira’s lawyers wrote that there is no evidence their client “ever carried his online conversations into reality or ever endangered anyone in his community.” They also said there’s no evidence to suggest that Teixeira is so valuable that a foreign adversary would be willing to smuggle him out of the country.