Pentagon documents leak suspect to appear in court on Friday over what the US government has called a "deliberate criminal act."
Armed FBI officers converged on the home of a Massachusetts Air National Guard member considered to be the main person of interest in the leak of top secret military documents on the Ukraine war.
Investigators believe that the air national guardsman, who was part of the guard's intelligence unit, led the chat group where the images of the documents were initially posted.
US authorities have identified the suspect as 21-year-old Jack Teixeira. He has been arrested and taken into custody.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said that the arrest was in connection to the "alleged unauthorised removal, retention and transmission of classified national defence information."
Garland did not reveal a possible motive, but accounts of those in the online private chat room where the documents were disclosed have depicted Teixeira as motivated more by bravado than ideology.
Teixeira will appear in court in Massachusetts on Friday after being detained at his home in the town of North Dighton, Massachusetts, without resistance by FBI agents.
It was not immediately clear if the Cape Cod native had an attorney who could speak on his behalf.
The Biden administration has scrambled for days to contain the fallout from the leaked information, which allegedly contains information on Ukraine’s defence capabilities and could expose assessments by allies on an array of intelligence matters.
The Pentagon called the disclosure a "very serious risk" to US national security.
Ukraine and NATO members may become more sceptical about information sharing with the US if the documents are confirmed as being tied to Ukraine's counter-offensive in the east.
Around 1.2 million US citizens, employed at various institutions and agencies, have access to documents labelled as top secret by the government.
The authenticity of the images, which continue to circulate on various websites, has not yet been publicly confirmed by the authorities, nor could it be independently verified by Euronews.
The photographs contain paper printouts of the classified reports. Sources close to the investigation claim the backgrounds of the printouts match the inside of Teixeira's home.
According to Bellingcat, the images were leaked in early March on the Discord messaging platform, which is often used by video game players to chat and exchange gaming tips.
The documents, said by some to be the most serious security leak since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine last year, are thought to have been leaked in two chatrooms after Teixeira shared them in a closed group chat.
One belongs to a user named wow_mao, later identified as an anonymous 20-year-old British YouTuber known for sharing crude memes on his profiles.
The other leak is believed to have appeared on a Discord chat discussing the Minecraft computer game.
Later, they were picked up by Russian Telegram channels, which is when news of the leaks became widely known last week. The documents that were shared in Russian-language chatrooms are now believed to have been doctored to depict a smaller casualty count for Moscow forces.
Teixeira was likely flaunting his access to top secret information among members of his private chat group when he first shared the documents. US officials have, for the time being, ruled out malicious foreign interference in the leaking of these documents.
Using the pseudonym "OG", Teixeira regularly posted hundreds of pages of documents from the military base where he worked over a period of several months.
Over 300 respective documents are thought to be in circulation, with some revealing US intelligence concerns about the viability of a Ukrainian counter-offensive against Russian forces, and others indicating a high level of infighting within the Kremlin leadership over how to proceed in the coming months.
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