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Biden says US leak probe ‘getting close’ as details on source emerge

France charges 4 for handing China, Russia secret tech
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The investigation into the leak of a cache of sensitive US documents is “getting close,” President Joe Biden said Thursday, as US media honed in on a young national guardsman as the possible source of the security breach.

The leak revealed unease over the viability of a coming counteroffensive by Kyiv’s forces against Russian troops as well as concerns about Ukrainian air defenses, and pointed to US spying on allies.

“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 said during a visit to Ireland.

The president’s remarks came after The Washington Post reported that hundreds of pages of documents had been posted in a group called Thug Shaker Central on social media platform Discord by a man who worked on a US military base.

The New York Times said it had identified a “trail of digital evidence” leading to a young air national guardsman as both the leader of the group and the leaker, although they made clear he has not been officially identified as a suspect.

The newspaper identified him as Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old member of the intelligence wing of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

The Wall Street Journal also pointed the finger at an air national guardsman, and said an arrest could take place as early as Thursday.

The reports said the alleged leaker, who went by the nickname “OG,” regularly posted documents in the group for months.

The group of around 24, including people from Russia and Ukraine, bonded over their “mutual love of guns, military gear and God,” and formed an “invitation-only clubhouse in 2020 on Discord,” the Post — which like the Times cited unidentified members of Thug Shaker Central — reported.

– ‘National security implications’ –

OG told the group members that he spent “some of his day inside a secure facility that prohibited cellphones and other electronic devices,” the Post report said.

He first wrote down the contents of classified documents to share with the group, but later began taking photos, telling other members not to share them, the newspaper reported.

OG had a “dark view of the government,” and “spoke of the United States, and particularly law enforcement and the intelligence community, as a sinister force that sought to suppress its citizens and keep them in the dark,” the Post said, citing one of the group’s members.

White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre said the United States is “reviewing the national security implications” of the leak, which has sparked a criminal investigation by the Justice Department.

In the wake of the breach, the Defense Department has also moved to further restrict access to this kind of sensitive information, Jean-Pierre told reporters traveling with Biden.

Washington also wants social media companies to “avoid facilitating” the distribution of such material, she said.

“We do believe that social media companies have a responsibility to their users and to the country to manage the private sector infrastructure that they create and now operate,” Jean-Pierre said.

A Discord spokesperson told AFP that user safety is a priority, and that content violating its policies can result in people being banned, servers being shut down, and police alerted.

“In regards to the apparent breach of classified material, we are cooperating with law enforcement,” the spokesperson said.

“As this remains an active investigation, we cannot provide further comment at this time.”


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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