Journalists spoke with users of the Discord platform who could have witnessed the publication of secret Pentagon documents. Among them are a teenager and a child, and some are threatening to leak copies of "hundreds of pages of documents."
Source: AP News, citing Discord users who spoke on condition of anonymity
Details: Reporters spoke with an 18-year-old member of the Discord chat platform where the data leak is believed to have originated. According to him, while discussing the situation in Ukraine, one of the users started sharing allegedly classified documents. At first, he posted them, adding his thoughts, and then, a few months ago, he started posting images of the papers.
The AP says it interviewed him but cannot confirm many of the details the young man claims. The chat where documents were published has been deleted. The boy refused to give his name for security reasons.
The young man says that he spoke with the person who published the documents on the phone.
"We were all just confused. We could not believe what was happening," he said.
He is talking to journalists to "clear the reputation" of another person with the nickname "Lucca".
AP reports that it was screenshotted from Lucca's posts circulated on social networks.
Another community member said, "Lucca" is "still a child". He said, "Lucca constantly posted them (documents - ed.) to mock people."
A spokesperson for the publication declined to name the person who first uploaded the documents to Thug Shaker Central or to confirm whether that person worked for the US government. However, he referred to a user with the nickname "OG".
At the same time, he said that the person who first published the documents did not seem to have any ideological motives. He was not trying to expose US government secrets but probably wanted to impress people in his group.
If this person is arrested, the participant said he has copies of "well over hundreds" of pages of documents.
AP emphasises that the interlocutor wants to protect other participants of the now-defunct chat but believes that the documents contain secrets that "Americans should know."
"In case OG is arrested, I will drain them all," he said.
- On 6 April, The New York Times reported that classified military documents detailing US and NATO plans to build up the Ukrainian army ahead of a planned counteroffensive had been leaked on Twitter and Telegram.
- Mykhailo Podoliak, an adviser to the head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, called the leaked materials "photoshopped" and joked about the deterioration in Russian intelligence. US officials told Reuters on condition of anonymity that Russia or pro-Russian elements were behind the leak of several classified US military documents posted on social media that allegedly showed preparations for Ukraine’s spring counteroffensive.
- Later, a new batch of classified documents appeared on social media, allegedly detailing US national security secrets regarding Ukraine, the Middle East, and China.
- On 9 April, the US Department of Justice launched an investigation into the leak of a huge number of US intelligence documents that have been posted on social media in recent weeks.
- Bellingcat investigators have found that the sensitive US documents focusing on the war in Ukraine, whose leak has recently been widely publicised, were posted on a WowMao Discord server as early as 1 and 2 March, though they might have first been leaked even earlier.