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April 14, 2023 – Russia-Ukraine news

8:32 p.m. ET, April 14, 2023

Images of leaked classified US documents were posted to at least 2 Discord chatrooms

The Discord app is displayed on the screen of an iPhone.

(Fabian Sommer/picture-alliance/dpa/AP)

Images of the leaked classified US documents that led to the arrest of an Air National Guard member this week were posted to at least two chatrooms on the Discord social media platform, 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 Teixeira allegedly oversaw, multiple US officials told CNN. An FBI affidavit unsealed Friday corroborates this timeline.

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 they saw another user, who went by “Lucca” and does not appear to be Teixeira, repost some of the classified documents to that chatroom.  

CNN has been unable to contact Lucca or establish their identity. End of Wow Mao Zone members were reluctant to identify themselves beyond screen names.

Why the docs matters for the war in Ukraine: The documents included a wide range of highly classified information, including eavesdropping on key allies and adversaries, and blunt assessments on the state of the Ukraine war.

One document reveals that the US has been spying on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That is unsurprising, said a source close to Zelensky, but Ukrainian officials are deeply frustrated about the leak.

More background: The second user tied to the spread of classified documents, Lucca, had stature and anonymity on Discord — two things that allowed the documents to remain on the platform for weeks without repercussions. And multiple users assumed the documents were fake, thinking no one would be brazen enough to post US military secrets to the platform.

Lucca was a “respected user,” one Discord user 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.

What Discord says: Discord is aware of Teixeira’s arrest and has cooperated with US law enforcement on the investigation, a 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 spokesperson said.

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