Confidential military files made their way onto a Minecraft Discord server in a story that seems perfect for the big screen and was reported by the investigative journalism group Bellingcat.
The leaked documents, filled with military secrets and detailing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, took a unique and unexpected journey before leading to the arrest of a 21-year-old National Guardsman.
In March, pictures of these classified documents, including some marked “Top Secret,” were posted on a small, mostly American server on Discord. They eventually found their way onto a server for Minecraft, and even stranger, another for a Filipino YouTube star.
The leaked documents, which included Ukrainian hotspot maps and a “CIA Operations Center Intelligence Update,” made their way from Discord to 4chan before appearing on pro-Russian Telegram channels and Twitter, eventually making national news.
While the leaks gained traction in March, Bellingcat discovered indications that some of the information had been circulating as early as January, although the exact point or date of origin is difficult to verify.
Despite the unconventional platform choices of the leaker, the US intelligence community is treating the situation seriously, with the Pentagon and FBI conducting investigations. They identified a 21-year-old Massachusetts National Guard airman named Jack Teixeira as a key suspect in the case.
One of the more bizarre aspects of the story, as reported by the BBC, is that many of the initial posts that circulated the documents have vanished, and many of the accounts that shared them have been deleted or wiped. Comments on forums suggest that this was done voluntarily, out of fear of federal investigators.
While we cannot condone the leaking of military secrets, the whole ordeal is nothing short of extraordinary.