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The Pentagon leak suspect is due back in court as a judge weighs his detention

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

The 21-year-old Massachusetts National Guard airman accused of leaking sensitive U.S. intelligence on the internet faces another court hearing today. A judge is expected to decide whether Jack Teixeira can be released to his father while awaiting trial on espionage charges. From member station WBUR, reporter Deborah Becker joins us to talk about the latest in this case.

Deborah, what's the defense expected to argue?

DEBORAH BECKER, BYLINE: They're expected to say that Teixeira is young. He's always lived in Massachusetts, has no criminal record or history of violence. Defense attorneys say if he's released, Teixeira would be in the custody of his dad, who's a former correction officer. His stepfather is a former National Guard member. And they say Teixeira would adhere to any strict conditions, such as electronic monitoring, staying away from guns and computers. They wrote in a brief that they feel the prosecution's characterizations of Teixeira as a flight risk are exaggerated. And in a new court filing this week, they point to other espionage cases where the accused have been released pretrial under a set of strict conditions.

FADEL: And what about the prosecution?

BECKER: The government has said Teixeira should continue to be held in a Massachusetts jail because, they say, he's proven he doesn't follow the rules. In their new filing this week, they say Teixeira's supervisors at the base in Massachusetts reprimanded him repeatedly for accessing sensitive documents, but he ignored them. They questioned whether Teixeira would abide by any bail conditions set by the judge. And the documents that Teixeira allegedly posted in an online chat group pertain to the war in Ukraine and U.S. spy operations. So prosecutors have also argued that a foreign government could offer to help Teixeira leave the U.S. in exchange for other information that he might have. And additionally, the prosecutors say Teixeira's a flight risk. He's facing serious charges that carry a maximum of 25 years in prison.

FADEL: Now, this is the second detention hearing. Why was a second hearing necessary?

BECKER: The judge in this case, federal Judge David Hennessy, held a lengthy hearing on this last month. About two weeks after Teixeira was arrested, Judge Hennessy took the case under advisement. Former federal prosecutors say it's likely that the judge is considering the defense claims about Teixeira's age and his lack of a criminal record and is giving the defense time to put together a release proposal. So at today's hearing, presumably that proposal will be gone over, as well as any new arguments about what prosecutors might cite for keeping him in custody.

FADEL: Now, prosecutors have mentioned they have other evidence against Teixeira.

BECKER: That's right. Prosecutors said during a search of the home that Teixeira was living in with his mother and stepfather, FBI agents found a gun locker near his bed containing handguns and rifles, an AK-style high-capacity weapon, a gas mask. Also, an FBI affidavit alleges that Teixeira sent messages to members of a private group on a gaming site that encouraged and threatened violence. And they say when Teixeira was 16 years old, he was suspended from high school after a classmate overheard him make remarks about weapons and guns at school. Teixeira disputed that at the time and said he had been talking about a video game.

FADEL: That's WBUR reporter Deborah Becker.

Thanks, Deborah.

BECKER: You're welcome. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deborah Becker