Police assembled in North Dighton, Mass., Thursday afternoon to help the FBI make an arrest in the leak of highly classified U.S. intelligence documents. Photo by CJ Gunther/EPA-EFE
April 13 (UPI) -- FBI agents on Thursday surrounded a Massachusetts home and arrested a 21-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman in the leak of highly classified U.S. intelligence documents.
"Today the Justice Department arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention, and transmission of classified national defense information," U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
The FBI's Boston office said in a statement on Twitter that Teixeira was arrested in North Dighton, Mass., "without incident," and Garland said Teixeira will have an initial appearance in U.S. district court in Massachusetts.
Boston TV news station WCVB reported an armored vehicle was used in the arrest.
Military biographical information for Teixeira obtained by NBC News shows that he holds the rank of airman first class. He joined the Air National Guard in September 2019 and has been based at Otis Air National Guard Base on Cape Cod.
A series of leaked U.S. intelligence documents came to widespread attention last week after circulating on private Internet servers for at least several months. The documents detail topics such as military supplies to Ukraine, American assessments of Israel's political situation, and analyses of factors arising on the Korean peninsula.
President Joe Biden suggested law enforcement was closing in on the leaker in comments earlier Thursday.
"There's a full-blown investigation going on, as you know, with the intelligence community and the Justice Department. And they're getting close," Biden told reporters during his trip to Northern Ireland.
Biden also appeared to downplay the harm caused by the leaks, saying, "I am not concerned about the leak. I'm concerned that it happened, but there's nothing contemporaneous that I'm aware of that is of any consequence."
Pentagon spokesman Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder discussed the leak and the naming of a suspect before Teixeira's arrest Thursday during a news conference.
"First of all, we are aware of the press reports regarding a potential suspect in the Department of Justice's ongoing investigation into unauthorized disclosures of documents appearing to emanate throughout the intelligence community," Ryder said.
"Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, I will have to refer you to the DOJ for any questions. This is a law-enforcement matter, and it would be inappropriate for me or any other DOD official to comment at this time."
Ryder said the Pentagon is taking the release of the information "very seriously" and is working to understand the "scope, scale, and impact" of the leaks.
He added that the Pentagon would not comment on any information contained in the classified documents.
"Just because classified information may be posted online or elsewhere does not mean it has been declassified by a classification authority," Ryder said.