Images of leaked classified documents were posted to at least two Discord chatrooms

Apr 15, 2023, 10:00 AM

Images of the leaked classified documents were posted to at least two chatrooms on Discord, a socia...

Images of the leaked classified documents were posted to at least two chatrooms on Discord, a social media platform popular with video gamers, according to a CNN review of Discord posts and interviews with its users. Photo credit: Shutterstock

  (CNN) — Images of the leaked classified documents were posted to at least two chatrooms on Discord, a social media platform popular with video gamers, according to a CNN review of Discord posts and interviews with its users.

The leaks began months ago on the first chatroom, called Thug Shaker Central, that Jack Teixeira allegedly oversaw, multiple US officials told CNN. An FBI affidavit unsealed Friday corroborates this timeline.

Teixeira, a 21-year-old airman with the Massachusetts Air National Guard, made his first appearance in federal court in Boston Friday morning following his arrest by the FBI in North Dighton, Massachusetts, the day before.

According to charging documents, Teixeira held a top secret security clearance and allegedly began posting information about the documents online around December 2022, and photos of documents in January.

It is unclear how, exactly, photos of the classified documents later ended up on a second Discord chatroom, known as End of Wow Mao Zone, in March. But four members of Wow Mao Zone told CNN that they saw another user, who does not appear to be Teixeira and who went by “Lucca,” repost some of the classified documents to that chatroom.

CNN has been unable to contact Lucca or establish their identity. In many online forums, users cloak their identities behind screen names and are reluctant to reveal themselves, including the End of Wow Mao Zone members that CNN spoke with. But End of Wow Mao Zone chatroom members told CNN that Lucca played a key role in propagating the documents that Teixeira allegedly leaked.

On Discord, Lucca had stature and anonymity — two things that allowed the documents to remain on the platform for weeks without repercussions. And multiple users assumed the documents were fake, that no one would be brazen enough to post US military secrets to the platform.

Lucca was a “respected user,” one Discord user who said they knew Lucca told CNN in a text conversation, and it was expected that Lucca would take the images down. But they didn’t. Many of the chat rooms are very lightly moderated, and the images stayed up for weeks, according to the four users who spoke to CNN.

After posting the documents, Lucca would add “fresh off the press” or something along those lines, one user added. “He would post them for attention. It was very common for him to ping everyone,” the user said.

Discord is aware of Teixeira’s arrest and has cooperated with US law enforcement on the investigation, a Discord spokesperson told CNN in a statement Thursday night.

“Our Terms of Service expressly prohibit using Discord for illegal or criminal purposes, which includes the sharing of documents on Discord that may be verifiably classified,” the Discord spokesperson said.

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Images of leaked classified documents were posted to at least two Discord chatrooms