Air Force employee accused of sharing classified information on foreign dating website

An Air Force employee has been charged with sharing classified information on a foreign dating website after prosecutors say he sent sensitive information about Russia’s war in Ukraine to a person who claimed to be a woman living in Ukraine.

Prosecutors say 63-year-old David Franklin Slater, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who held a Top Secret security clearance at US Strategic Command, attended classified briefings on the war in Ukraine from February through April 2022, soon after Russia’s invasion began. Slater then sent this classified information to someone who claimed to be a woman living in Ukraine, according to an indictment. The two communicated via email and through the foreign dating website’s online messaging platform, though the indictment does not identify which one.

Slater was arrested Saturday, the Justice Department said in a news release. CNN could not immediately identify an attorney for him.

The person Slater communicated with, who is identified only as “Co-Conspirator 1,” referred to him as “Sweet Dave” and “my secret agent” in messages, according to the indictment.

Prosecutors say Slater’s co-conspirator sent him a message around March 11, 2022, asking, “Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting.”

Less than a week later, according to the indictment, the co-conspirator sent another message saying, “You are my secret informant love! How were your meetings? Successfully?”

The co-conspirator sent messages for nearly two months, according to the indictment, repeatedly probing Slater for more classified information. In April 2022, prosecutors say Slater received a message that said, “You have a job in the Operations Center today, I remember, I’m sure there is a lot of interesting news there?”

In response to these messages, prosecutors say Slater shared classified information about military targets in Russia’s war against Ukraine and Russian military capabilities relating to the invasion.

CNN has reached out to the Air Force for comment.

Slater “knowingly transmitted classified national defense information to another person in blatant disregard for the security of his country and his oath to safeguard its secrets,” said Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen from the Justice Department’s National Security Division.

Slater faces one count of conspiracy to disclose national defense information and two counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information. If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.

Before working as a civilian in the Air Force, Slater served more than 30 years in the active-duty Army and Army Reserve. According to his official record provided by the Army, Slater served on active-duty from August 1981 to August 1984, and again from July 2008 to December 2020. Between December 1984 and July 2008, he served in the Army Reserve.

During his service, Slater deployed to Iraq from December 2004 to December 2004; to Afghanistan from July 2010 to July 2011, May 2014 to May 2015, and again from March 2019 to December 2020; and to Qatar from February 2016 to February 2017. He retired as a lieutenant colonel in 2020.

Eight months later, Slater began working at Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska, the home of US Strategic Command, which is responsible for command and control of the nuclear weapons stockpile.

“When people violate the trust given to them to safeguard our nation’s intelligence, they put our country at risk,” Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel of the FBI’s Omaha Field Office said in a statement.

Slater is scheduled to make his first appearance in federal court in Nebraska on Tuesday.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

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