Jack Teixeira’s arrest at the Pentagon under the Espionage Act stirs up haunting memories for the reality winner’s family
THE arrest of a 21-year-old US Air National Guard suspect of leaking secret Pentagon files has brought to mind another case haunting the family of a former NSA translator.
Reality Winner, 31, was sentenced to the longest-ever prison sentence for unauthorized disclosure of government information about five years before Jack Teixeira was arrested for allegedly leaking sensitive documents on a Discord server.
Teixeira was drafted into the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
The FBI had their sights set on Teixeira for several days before arriving at his home on Thursday to formally arrest him.
It is alleged that Teixeira oversaw an online discord group called Thug Shaker Central, where about 30 people – mostly young men and teenagers – shared a love of guns, offensive memes and gaming.
The investigation into Teixeira focused on leaked documents containing sensitive information about the support the United States is giving to Ukraine amid its war with Russia.
Although little is known about Teixeira, his arrest stirred up haunting memories in the family of Winner, who was convicted under the Espionage Act in 2018.
REALITY WINNER CONVICTION
The winner, who served in the Air Force between 2010 and 2016, was jailed on June 3, 2017 after admitting to printing an intelligence assessment about a Russian phishing attack on election-support companies during the 2016 presidential election.
At the time, she was working with NSA contractor Pluribus International Corporation to translate documents from Persian related to Iran’s aerospace program.
The winner admitted to having stumbled across the election tally through her translation work and told the FBI she was “frustrated” that no evidence of Russian interference had been released to the public.
She printed the report and smuggled it out of the NSA office in Augusta, Georgia, in her tights.
The winner shared the report with The Intercept, which published the story without redacting key leads that led officers back to the whistleblower.
The winner pleaded guilty to transmitting national security information in 2018 and was sentenced to five years and three months, a record for the crime.
In the time since her arrest, she has been branded an American traitor by some who believe she put the US in danger by leaking information about election security.
She apologized for her actions in 2018, saying they were a “cruel betrayal of my nation’s trust in me.”
The winner’s sister, Brittany, told The US Sun in an exclusive interview on Thursday that the family were “incredibly shocked” when the winner was arrested.
‘KEPT IN THE DARK’
“At first we were really kept in the dark about everything. It seemed like the news reporters who spoke to us knew more than we did then because things were moving so quickly,” Brittany said.
Brittany didn’t know much about Teixeira’s arrest as it unfolded, but shared her own family’s experience of seeing her loved one sentenced.
“I hope that [Teixeira] has a good support system to get them through because it’s a very harrowing, difficult process where the government has all the power once they arrest you,” she said.
“And once they charge you with something like the Espionage Act they charged reality under, you don’t really have much defense.
“You can’t really say much in self-defense. And it’s really not advisable to speak up and tell your story.”
Brittany said that being in the spotlight usually leads to a thorough evaluation of your personal life.
“I’ve seen my sister’s public trial – sort of like a trial against her lifestyle or her personality or her internet posts.”
“[It] played a role in refusing her bail, so she was jailed for over a year before her trial.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III called on Thursday that the Department of Defense would continue to review the national security implications of the unauthorized disclosure.
He said “intelligence access, accountability and control procedures within the ministry” would be re-examined to prevent further leaks.
Brittany said of the situation, “It certainly appears that the protections or security surrounding some of these classified documents are potentially not stringent enough.”
Brittany added of Teixeira’s case: “The individual’s motives should also be carefully considered.
“It seems like no one knows what this person’s motivation is, except the person themselves.”
Teixeira will have a first appearance in the US District Court for Massachusetts, Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
Investigations into the leaked documents are ongoing.