Massachusetts: Arrest in investigation into US leaks: 21-year-old targeted

The Federal Police FBI arrested a suspect in the investigation into the publication of explosive US secret service information on the Internet.

Massachusetts: Arrest in investigation into US leaks: 21-year-old targeted

The Federal Police FBI arrested a suspect in the investigation into the publication of explosive US secret service information on the Internet. The man was taken into custody in connection with the "unauthorized removal, storage and transmission of classified information," US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in Washington on Thursday. He is a member of the National Guard and his name is Jack T.

The man was arrested on Thursday afternoon (local time) in North Dighton, Massachusetts. The TV station CNN showed video footage of the arrest. There you could see emergency services taking a young man in a T-shirt and shorts away. US media had previously circulated the first details about the alleged mole. The man is said to have run a chat group on the Discord platform popular with video gamers. He initially shared the explosive documents with the group as copies and later uploaded photos of printed documents there. According to the media, he is 21 years old. Garland didn't name an age.

Secret documents from US agencies - allegedly from the CIA and the Pentagon - on the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine have been circulating on the Internet for weeks: information on arms deliveries, assessments of what is happening in the war. But also details of alleged US spying against partners. It is unclear what is authentic and what could possibly have been edited. For the US government, however, the matter is as uncomfortable as possible one way or the other. Questions arise about how reliable Americans are, how well they protect their secrets and those of their partners, and how loyal they are to allies.

US media first reported on the leak shortly before Easter without publishing the documents themselves. According to US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, he only found out about the data leak at the time, about a week ago - even though the material had been floating around the web for weeks. After that, the government rotated to placate partners and most importantly to find the leak. The Justice Department launched an investigation. And that led to the arrest.

The "Washington Post" had previously disclosed extensive details about the alleged mole, which some called "OG". Around two dozen young people with a penchant for weapons and military equipment had come together in his chat group. The group was founded in 2020 during the corona pandemic. "OG" was described there as a charismatic gun nut with dark views of the US government, intelligence agencies and law enforcement agencies.

Others in the group would have admired him. "He's fit. He's strong. He's armed. He's trained. Pretty much everything you could want from a crazy movie," said one of the members. "OG" told the group that he obtained the documents at a military base where he worked. There he said he spent parts of the day in a secure facility where cell phones and other electronic devices that could be used to take photos or videos were banned. Therefore, he initially copied the documents. He posted his posts in the group throughout the winter. It was probably about "bragging about in front of his friends", but also about informing them, said a member of the group.

According to the newspaper, when copying proved too tedious, he began posting pictures of previously printed papers - and apparently also took a great risk of being caught because such pictures gave investigators clues. The New York Times wrote that details of the 21-year-old's childhood home, which were published in family photos on social media, matched details in the margins of some photos of the secret documents published.

According to the Washington Post, the young man had become frustrated that the other members of the group weren't paying enough attention to his revelations.

Former intelligence coordinator James Clapper told CNN that it sounds to him like this "OG" shares a certain "level of narcissism" with other whistleblowers before him. "There's an ego element in feeling important about yourself by having access to such material and disclosing it."

"OG" stopped sharing documents with the chat group in mid-March, the Washington Post continued. The reason was that someone from the circle - to which users from Russia and Ukraine are said to have belonged - had posted documents in another group at the end of February and thus broken the agreed secrecy. In early April, just before the New York Times reported the leak, OG seemed desperate. "He said something happened and he prays to God that this event doesn't happen," the newspaper quoted a minor member of the group as saying.

According to the newspaper, there is no clear picture of "OG's" motivation. Despite his gloomy views, he was not hostile to the US government, it said. According to the chat users, he was not a Russian or Ukrainian agent either.

Note: This article has been updated.