Prosecutors allege Pentagon leak suspect Jack Teixeira could flee, compare him to Edward Snowden

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(WORCESTER, Mass.) — Jack Teixeira, the Massachusetts airman accused of leaking highly classified U.S. intelligence documents, is asking a magistrate judge to release him from pretrial detention, though prosecutors allege the 21-year-old is a flight risk and, if released on bail, say he could “further disseminate classified information” and “take refuge with a foreign adversary.”

Teixeira walked into the courtroom for his Thursday detention hearing handcuffed, wearing a long rosary necklace and an orange jumpsuit. The 21-year-old looked at his family members sitting in the first two rows, and one woman in the front row began to cry.

The federal magistrate judge, David Hennessy, heard arguments Thursday about whether Teixeira should be kept in federal custody ahead of his trial, but Hennessy said he needed more time to review before making a decision.

Federal prosecutors argued in a Wednesday court filing that Teixeira “poses a serious flight risk” and it would be “all too easy” for him, if released on bail, “to further disseminate classified information” and “take refuge with a foreign adversary.” Prosecutors also claimed that Teixeira took “a series of obstructive steps” intended to prevent investigators from understanding the scope of what he allegedly did and they outlined in detail the reasons they believe he poses a danger to the public if allowed to be released from detention, pointing to the “virtual arsenal of weapons” he possessed at residences he occupied that are owned by his mother and father.

Prosecutors argued Thursday that Teixeira is both a flight and national security risk. They said evidence showed he had performed hundreds of searches on the classified network, accessing it almost daily, including at times from inside his mother’s home. They pointed out he’d accessed far more classified information that he had ever posted, and suggested that information would drive foreign adversaries to potentially contact or help him, and given his untrustworthy nature, he would be likely to flee, comparing him directly to Edward Snowden.

Teixeira’s public defender argued in a new filing that even if Hennessy finds Teixeira poses a risk of flight or obstruction, the Massachusetts Air National Guard member should still be permitted to remain out of pretrial detention in the custody of his father or confined to a home with the presence of either his father, mother, stepfather, Air Force personnel or his lawyers.

Teixeira’s lawyer, Allen Franco, suggested that Teixeira could have restrictions imposed on him like location monitoring, barring him from accessing the internet or contacting any potential witnesses in the case and bond that could be secured by both his parents’ homes.

Teixeira’s father testified Thursday that he was prepared to serve as a third-party custodian pending his son’s release. His father testified that all of his guns have been removed from his home and he indicated he’d be prepared to report his son to the authorities should the 21-year-old violate the terms of his release.

Teixeira’s dad said he doesn’t have any computers in his house, and that he’d remove his password-protected tablet if his son were to be released. He also was willing to remove his internet-connected television from the house.

Teixeira’s lawyer further disputed that he’d be a flight risk by pointing to how, when Teixeira became aware of his impending arrest, he sat on his mother’s porch and read a Bible as he waited for law enforcement to arrive.

Franco in his filing also addressed the government’s detailing of Texeira’s suspension during his sophomore year in high school over allegations he made violent and racist threats. The incident “was thoroughly investigated” at the time, Franco wrote, and Teixeira was allowed to return to school after a “handful” of days following a psychiatric evaluation.

Franco revealed that the incident was also “fully known and vetted by the Air National Guard prior to enlisting and also when he obtained his top-secret security clearance.”

Teixeira’s attorney also argued that the government has offered “no evidence” that his client ever intended for information shared within the Discord server “to be widely disseminated.”

“There is no allegation in the affidavit that Mr. Teixeira had any intent for these documents to become widely available on the internet or desired to disrupt the geopolitical affairs of the United States,” his attorney wrote. “Thus, there is no reason to suggest that, if released, Mr. Teixeira has any motivation, desire, or current ability to commit any actions like those alleged in the complaint affidavit or in the government’s supplemental motion for detention.”

Teixeira, a native of Dighton, Massachusetts, has been charged with unauthorized retention and transmission of national defense information as well as willful retention of classified documents, which collectively carry a maximum of 15 years in prison. He has yet to enter a plea.

The FBI-Boston tactical team arrested Teixeira on April 13 and he made an initial appearance in federal court in Boston the following day.

The criminal complaint alleges that Teixeira “improperly and unlawfully retained and transmitted national defense information to people not authorized to receive it.” The leaked documents apparently contain top-secret information about Russia’s war in Ukraine and other parts of the world. Teixeira allegedly accessed a government document on Feb. 23 and posted it online the following day, according to the complaint. It’s the disclosure of that one document that forms the basis of the initial charges.

ABC News’ Meredith Deliso, Aaron Katersky, Luis Martinez and Emily Shapiro contributed to this report.

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