The Washington PostThe Washington Post

Leaker of U.S. secret documents worked on military base, friend says

By Shane Harris and Samuel Oakford

13 Apr 2023 · 14 min read

Editor's Note

How a young man, obsessed with gaming and guns, is the source of secretive U.S. military documents leak. The Washington Post speaks to his followers who will go to extreme lengths to defend 'OG'.

The man behind a massive leak of U.S. government secrets that has exposed spying on allies, revealed the grim prospects for Ukraine's war with Russia and ignited diplomatic fires for the White House is a young, charismatic gun enthusiast who shared highly classified documents with a group of far-flung acquaintances searching for companionship amid the isolation of the pandemic.

United by their mutual love of guns, military gear and God, the group of roughly two dozen - mostly men and boys - formed an invitation-only clubhouse in 2020 on Discord, an online platform popular with gamers. But they paid little attention last year when the man some call "OG" posted a message laden with strange acronyms and jargon. The words were unfamiliar, and few people read the long note, one of the members explained. But he revered OG, the elder leader of their tiny tribe, who claimed to know secrets that the government withheld from ordinary people.

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