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Air Force employee allegedly leaked classified info on dating site

Federal authorities are accusing a civilian Air Force employee of allegedly sending classified information about Russia’s war with Ukraine to a romantic interest through a foreign online dating platform, the Justice Department announced Monday.

David Franklin Slater, 63, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who went on to work at U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, was arrested Saturday for allegedly disclosing and conspiring to transmit classified intelligence in early 2022.

His unidentified “co-conspirator” allegedly asked him to provide sensitive information regularly, referring to him as “my secret agent,” according to the indictment, which accuses Slater of obliging those requests.

Slater was scheduled to make an initial appearance on Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Nebraska, the Justice Department said in a release.

His arrest was announced the same day that Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira pleaded guilty to leaking highly classified military documents about the war in Ukraine and other national security matters on the social media platform Discord.

According to the indictment, Slater worked in a classified space with a top secret security clearance at STRATCOM starting around August 2021 and attended classified briefings regarding Ukraine, into which Russia launched a full-scale invasion in February 2022.

He then allegedly sent information gleaned from those meetings — including on military targets and Russian military capabilities — to an individual claiming to be a woman living in Ukraine via an unnamed foreign online dating website’s messaging platform. Federal officials have not said who was behind the account.

According to the indictment, the account sent multiple requests for classified intelligence in the weeks following the invasion.

“Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting,” the correspondent allegedly asked in March 2022.

They also acknowledged Slater’s help a few days later, the indictment alleged.

“You were the first to tell me that NATO members are traveling by train and only now (already evening) this was announced on our news,” the account said, according to the indictment. “You are my secret informant love!”

Slater was charged with two counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information and one count of conspiracy to disclose national defense information. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 per count, according to the Justice Department release.

STRATCOM spokesperson Capt. Ron Flanders confirmed Tuesday that Slater worked in the command’s logistics directorate until 2022. The command oversees the daily operations of America’s nuclear weapons and the aircraft and submarines that carry them.

Before transitioning to civilian employment, Slater served as a career soldier in the active duty Army and the Army Reserve.

He served as an active duty logistician from August 1981 to August 1984, and again from July 2008 to December 2020, Army spokesperson Bryce Dubee told Military Times. He entered the Reserve from 1984 to 2008, deploying to Iraq, Afghanistan and Qatar over the course of nearly two decades after the 9/11 attacks.

Slater’s attorney, listed in court documents, did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

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