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DOJ, FBI Narrow Suspect Pool For Discord User Who Leaked Classified Documents

The FBI and Department of Justice have narrowed the pool of suspects believed responsible for the disclosure of classified military documents on Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.Discord Logo (File Photo)

The FBI and Department of Justice have narrowed the pool of suspects believed responsible for the disclosure of classified military documents on Discord, according to the Associated Press.

A top Pentagon spokesman told reporters earlier this week that the disclosures present a “very serious risk to national security,” and the Justice Department opened an investigation to identify the person responsible.

“We’re getting close,” President Joe Biden told reporters in Ireland on Thursday.

The Pentagon said on Sunday it had made a formal ‘referral’ to the Department of Justice (DOJ), asking it to investigate the apparent leak of the documents, which have been circulated on social media sites.

In a statement on Sunday, the Pentagon said it was reviewing the validity of the photographed documents that “appear to contain sensitive and highly classified material.”

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The leaks do not contain exact battle plans, but they present the first known breach of U.S. intelligence since the start of the Ukraine invasion, according to the Pentagon.

The documents were originally leaked onto a Discord server and landed on Twitter and Telegram.

According to the AP, “Since the investigation began, officials have winnowed down the number of suspects who might be responsible, according to a person with knowledge of the probe who was not authorized to discuss an ongoing investigation. It was not clear how many suspects remained or when or if an arrest might be made.”

The Washington Post has traced the recent Pentagon intelligence leak to a man who shared hundreds of secret files with a small group of young gamers on a private Discord server.

According to WaPo, the man, nicknamed ‘OG’ by the other server members, said ‘OG’ worked on a military base and had access to high-level government secrets withheld from the public, two unnamed group members told the Post.

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Since 2020, OG began sending the classified information to his Discord server, which was once named “Thug Shaker Central,” per the Post.

OG, the server’s administrator, expected the group’s members to pay close attention to the flood of information he fed them, one of the two young Discord users told the Post.

“He’s fit. He’s strong. He’s armed. He’s trained. Just about everything you can expect out of some sort of crazy movie,” the member said.

Dozens of the sensitive documents from ‘OG’s’ “Thug Shaker Central” Discord server emerged on Russian Telegram channels and 4Chan forums in late March and early April, when authorities first became aware of the leak.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby addressed the leak and the criminal investigation underway on Monday.

“Can you lay out what the consequences will be for the people or the person responsible for the leaks of these classified information? And secondly, have you been able to gauge what their motive is, just based on how they’ve released this information?” a reporter asked Kirby.

“The answer to both questions is, ‘No, I can’t.’ There’s a Justice Department investigation going on right now — a criminal investigation. I’m certainly not gonna say anything that would prejudice that, and that work is just starting. So we don’t know who’s behind this. We don’t know what the motive is, and I think, I can’t remember who asked before, but we don’t know what else might be out there,” Kirby said.

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He stressed the importance of not sharing the documents, of which he neither confirmed nor denied the legitimacy.

“Without confirming the validity of the documents, this is information that has no business in the public domain. It has no business, if you don’t mind me saying, on the pages of — front pages of newspapers, or on television. It is not intended for public consumption and it should not be out there,” Kirby stressed.

The leak appears to show Washington spying on close U.S. allies, including Ukraine, South Korea, and Israel, a potentially embarrassing revelation for the administration of U.S. President Joe Biden.

However, the documents appear to contain some errors, including battlefield casualty estimates that minimize Russian losses.

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“In order to protect this country every day the way we do, one of the things that we have to protect is information, not only the information itself, but the manner in which we glean that information,” Kirby added.

U.S. officials have told the Reuters news agency they have not ruled out the possibility the documents have been doctored to conceal their origin or spread false information that could damage US security interests.

The Ukrainian presidential office has said the leaked documents contain a large amount of “fictitious information” and bear the hallmarks of a Russian disinformation campaign.

One document marked “Secret” and dated February 23 describes how Ukraine’s air defense systems are on track to run out of munitions by May if they continue going through stockpiles at the current rate.

Another document claims that Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency encouraged protests against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s controversial judicial reforms, which Netanyahu’s office on Sunday said was “without any foundation whatsoever.”

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In another document, senior South Korean officials are said to have discussed coming under US pressure to help supply weapons to Ukraine in violation of Seoul’s policy against exporting weapons to countries in conflict.

On Sunday, a South Korean presidential official acknowledged the reports about the leaked documents and said it would raise the issue with Washington.

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