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FBI looks into video games Pentagon docs leaker, friends played on Discord

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The FBI are investigating a group of friends who used a server on the video game chat platform Discord following the arrest last week of 21-year-old Jack Teixeira, the National Guardsman charged with leaking US military intelligence and who served as administrator on the server, and the FBI are asking what video games they all played together.

The materials leaked by Teixeira included unknown information about US involvement in Ukraine, including that the US and UK have special forces teams on the ground. Some have said he should receive whistleblower protections, since the leak showed that the Biden administration has not been forthright either about the depth of US involvement, the likelihood of a win, or how a win would be defined. The documents showed that the Biden administration believes the war will drag on for quite some time.

The Washington Post reports that members of the online group told the outlet that approximately two dozen users were allowed on the server and some of those people were foreign citizens, including members of countries in Europe, Asia, and South America as well as citizens of Ukraine and Russia.

In addition to asking the group who use Thug Shaker Central server questions related to the video games they were playing, federal authorities are seeking to learn if any of them are foreign nationals. 

According to Business Insider, “The attraction of gamers has made Discord a crucial tool for the US military and its broader campaign to focus recruiting efforts on online communities and video games.” 

Teixeira is alleged to have leaked classified material on the Discord server titled Thug Shaker Central starting in the summer of 2022. Discord is a social networking, messaging, and chat application used predominantly by gamers. In the wake of internet-based multiplayer games, Discord provides invite-only servers in which users can communicate.

Teixeira, who has not yet entered a plea, was charged with unauthorized removal, detention, and transmission of national defense information, faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted.

Former members of Thug Shaker Central told the Washington Post that hundreds of classified documents were shared to the server and the FBI are investigating the extent of the leak’s damage as well as gathering evidence towards the prosecution of Teixeira.

Some members of the server told the outlet that materials were shared to the server in December 2022 while some said the information appeared in the summer.

The information started in Thug Shaker Central but then on February 28 one member posted material to a different Discord server associated with a YouTuber named “wow_mao.” On March 4, more materials appeared on a Discord server titled Minecraft Earth Map.

The broader leak contained US intelligence on the war in Ukraine, including details on their defense capabilities. Discord has said they would cooperate fully with law enforcement.