US Air Force employee indicted for leaking secrets on dating app

Aprilia Rine

US Air Force employee indicted for leaking secrets on dating app

The 63-year-old retired Army lieutenant colonel is accused of transmitting confidential information to a person claiming to be a woman living in Ukraine

A civilian US Air Force employee has been charged in federal court in Nebraska with transmitting classified information about the Ukraine conflict on a foreign online dating platform, according to a press release by the Justice Department on Monday.

David Franklin Slater, 63, who authorities say retired as an Army lieutenant colonel and was assigned to the US Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, was arrested on March 2 on charges of illegally disclosing national defense information and conspiring to do so.

According to a statement by Matthew G. Olsen, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division, Slater acted “in blatant disregard for the security of his country and his oath to safeguard its secrets.” 

Starting in February 2022, according to the indictment, Slater attended top secret briefings about the Ukraine conflict and then allegedly transmitted the sensitive information that he learned from those briefings via the foreign online dating website’s messaging platform to his co-conspirator, who claimed to be a female living in Ukraine.

The indictment suggests that the alleged co-conspirator, who is not identified by prosecutors, regularly asked Slater to provide her with “sensitive, non-public, closely held and classified” information and called Slater in their messages her “secret informant love” and her “secret agent.” 

In one such a message sent less than a month after the start of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, the purported woman reportedly asked “Beloved Dave, do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us?” 

There also appeared to be discussions between the two on weapons shipments to Ukraine and a NATO “surprise” for Russian President Vladimir Putin. “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,” the person told Slater.

Another message reads: “Sweet Dave, the supply of weapons is completely classified, which is great!” 

The person also asked in another communication: “Dave, I hope tomorrow NATO will prepare a very unpleasant ‘surprise’ for Putin! Will you tell me?” 

Slater “indeed provided classified [national defense information]” to his co-conspirator, the Justice Department said.

According to the indictment, the person also showed a keen interest in Slater’s visits to the air base, asking him once: “Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting.” 

Slater is due to make his first court appearance on Tuesday. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count of conspiracy to transmit and the transmission of national defense information, the Justice Department has said.

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