A friend has identified the leaker of classified documents related to the war in Ukraine and U.S. spying operations as a young gun enthusiast who shared the documents online via a forum he joined amid loneliness brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The Post reported that a group of two dozen people, mostly male, formed an invite-only clubhouse on Discord, a platform popular with gamers, in 2020, brought together by a love of guns, military gear and religion.
One user whom the members refer to as “OG,” who claimed to know about government secrets, posted on a message in the forum that was filled with acronyms and jargon.
A member of the group told the Post that few people read the note, but he did. OG posted hundreds more over the course of months that seemed to be transcripts of classified documents almost verbatim, the member said.
They said OG had said he brought the documents home from his job at a “military base.” OG said he worked for hours to write up the classified documents to share with those in the Discord group and “wanted to keep us in the loop,” according to the member.
“He’s a smart person. He knew what he was doing when he posted these documents, of course. These weren’t accidental leaks of any kind,” the member said.
Members reportedly said the group included foreign citizens, including from Ukraine and Russia.
When the documents circulated online on platforms such as Twitter, records on U.S. intelligence operations and insights were publicized to the world. At least one of the documents appears to have been altered with casualty totals on the Russian side of the war in Ukraine much lower than believed.
The leaks showed that the Pentagon has raised doubts about the potential for success from Ukraine’s expected counteroffensive this spring, that the U.S. is spying on allies such as Israel and that Egypt planned to supply Russia with rockets in the war against Ukraine, among other findings.
The Post reported that OG began posting hundreds of pictures of the documents themselves after rendering them by hand became too tiring.
The member of the group who spoke to the Post is under 18 and was a young teenager when he met OG. He spoke to the outlet on condition of anonymity and with agreement from his mother.
A second member of the group who read many of the same documents corroborated his account. They both know OG’s real name and where he lives and works but declined to share the information while the FBI is probing the leak.
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