Jack Teixeira Pentagon leak arrest brings up haunting memories for Reality Winner’s family after Espionage Act sentence
THE arrest of a 21-year-old U.S. Air National Guardsman suspected of leaking classified Pentagon files has called to mind another case that haunts an ex-NSA translator’s family.
Reality Winner, 31, was given the longest-ever prison sentence for the unauthorized release of government information around five years before Jack Teixeira was detained for allegedly sharing sensitive documents on a Discord server.
Teixeira was enlisted in the 102nd Intelligence Wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.
The FBI had been zeroing in on Teixeira for several days before arresting him at a home in North Dighton, Massachusetts, on Thursday.
It’s alleged that Teixeira oversaw an online Discord group called Thug Shaker Central where approximately 30 people – mostly young men and teens – shared a love of guns, offensive memes, and games.
The federal probe into Teixeira centered on leaked documents containing sensitive information about the support the United States is providing Ukraine amid its war with Russia.
He’s being investigated for “alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified national defense information.”
While little is known about Teixeira so far, his arrest brought back haunting memories for the family of Winner, who was convicted under the Espionage Act in 2018.
REALITY WINNER’S CONVICTION
Winner, who served in the Air Force between 2010 and 2016, was jailed on June 3, 2017, after she admitted to printing off a classified intelligence assessment about a Russian phishing attack targeting election support companies during the 2016 presidential election.
At the time, she was working with NSA contractor Pluribus International Corporation translating documents from Persian related to Iran’s aerospace program.
Winner admitted to coming across the election assessment through her translation work. She claimed she became “frustrated” that proof of Russian interference was not made available to the public.
She printed the report off and smuggled it out of the NSA office in Augusta, Georgia, in her pantyhose.
Winner shared the report with The Intercept, which published the story without redacting key clues that led officials back to the whistleblower.
Winner pleaded guilty to transmitting national security information in 2018 and was sentenced to five years and three months, a record for the crime.
She has since been branded as an American traitor who put the U.S. at risk by leaking information on election safety.
She apologized for her actions in 2018, stating that they were a “cruel betrayal of my nation’s trust in me.”
‘KEPT IN THE DARK’
Winner’s sister Brittany told The U.S. Sun in an exclusive interview on Thursday that the family was “incredibly shocked” when Winner was arrested.
“At first, we were really kept in the dark about everything. It seemed like the news reporters who were talking to us knew more than we did at the time because of how quickly things just kind of unfolded,” Brittany said.
Brittany didn’t know much about Teixeira’s arrest but shared her own family’s experience of seeing their loved one tried and convicted.
“I hope that [Teixeira] has a good support system to get them through this because it is a very jarring, difficult process where the government has all the power once they’ve arrested you,” she said.
“And once they’ve charged you with something like the Espionage Act, which they charged Reality under, you don’t really have very much of a defense.
“You can’t really say much in defense of yourself. And it’s really not advised to speak out and tell your story.”
Brittany said that being in the spotlight usually leads to an in-depth evaluation of your personal life.
“I saw how it played out in the public trial of my sister – kind of like a trial on her lifestyle or her personality or her internet posts.”
“[It] played a role in denying her bail, so that she was imprisoned for over a year before her trial.”
Winner was released from prison for good behavior in June 2021 and sent to a half-way house, according to her lawyer.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said on Thursday that the Department of Defense would continue to review the national security implications of the latest unauthorized disclosure.
He said “intelligence access, accountability and control procedures within the department” would be re-examined to prevent further leaks.
Brittany said of the situation: “It certainly appears that the safeguards or the security surrounding some of these classified documents are not potentially strict enough.”
Brittany added of Teixeira’s case: “The motivations of the person should also be kind of carefully considered.
“It doesn’t seem like anybody knows what the motivations of this person are, other than the person themselves.”
Teixeira will have an initial appearance in U.S. District Court for Massachusetts, Attorney General Merrick Garland said.
The investigation into the leaked documents is ongoing.