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Retired Army officer charged with sharing classified information about Ukraine on foreign dating site

Retired Army officer charged with data leak
Retired Army officer charged with leaking secrets on dating sites 01:26

Washington — A retired Army lieutenant colonel was arrested Saturday and accused of illegally disclosing sensitive national defense information on a foreign dating site, according to charging documents. 

David Franklin Slater, 63 — who most recently worked as a civilian Air Force employee assigned to United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)  — allegedly communicated with an unnamed person claiming to be a woman living in Ukraine and sent the individual secret Pentagon documents about Russia's war in that country, court filings said. 

STRATCOM is the U.S. military combatant command responsible for nuclear deterrence and nuclear command and control and is headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. While working at STRATCOM, Slater had a Top Secret Security clearance, according to the filings, and received training for the proper handling of sensitive government information. 

"Certain responsibilities are incumbent to individuals with access to Top Secret information. The allegations against Mr. Slater challenge whether he betrayed those responsibilities," said U.S. Attorney Susan Lehr for the District of Nebraska. 

After retiring from the army in 2020, prosecutors said Slater started working for STRATCOM in August 2021, where he attended top secret briefings about the war in Ukraine. STRATCOM confirmed he was an employee in its Directorate of Logistics until 2022.

Slater and the unnamed individual discussed the war over email and an online messaging platform, according to court documents. He was regularly asked about his access to national defense information, prosecutors said. 

"Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting," read one March 2022 message to Slater. "Beloved Dave, do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us," the person asked in another message. 

Court documents stated that the person with whom Slater was communicating called him "my secret informant" and urged him to pass along more sensitive information. 

""Dave, it's great that you get information about [Specified Country 1] first. I hope you will tell me right away? You are my secret agent. With love," one message read.

"My sweet Dave, thanks for the valuable information, it's great that two officials from the USA are going to Kyiv," an April 14, 2022 message read. 

Prosecutors allege that in response to the entreaties, Slater provided sensitive information including details that were classified as secret by the U.S. intelligence community. Such information, if disclosed, "could be expected to cause serious damage to the national security that the original classification authority was able to identify and describe," according to the indictment. 

His civilian work with the Air Force began in April 2022. 

The charges against Slater were announced hours after a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard admitted he had violated the Espionage Act when he posted highly classified government documents — some about the war in Ukraine — on a gaming platform. 

Jack Teixeira pleaded guilty to six counts of illegally retaining and transmitting national defense information in a Boston federal courtroom on Monday and could face up to 16 years in prison. 

For his part, Slater faces one count of conspiracy and two counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information. He is expected to make his initial appearance in a Nebraska courtroom on Tuesday and has not yet been arraigned. 

An attorney for Slater could not be immediately identified. 

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