Air Force employee charged with disclosing classified information on foreign dating website

A civilian worker for the Air Force has been charged with illegally sending secret information about Russia's war against Ukraine through a foreign dating website to a woman claiming to be in Ukraine, officials said.

David Slater, 63, a former Army lieutenant colonel who was working in a civilian role for U.S. Strategic Command, was arrested Saturday, the Justice Department said Monday.

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

The messages, which prosecutors allege were sent over email and through the dating platform to a woman who said she was living in Ukraine, occurred from about February 2022 to April 2022 — a time frame that includes Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022.

Prosecutors say the woman regularly asked Slater to provide "sensitive, non-public, closely held, and classified" national defense information, calling him her "secret informant love."

In some of the messages, an indictment alleges, the woman referred to the war, including asking, "Beloved Dave, do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us?” and stating that “the supply of weapons is completely classified, which is great!”

In another message cited in the indictment, the woman allegedly wrote that it was great that Slater had gotten information about a "specified" — but unnamed in the indictment — country, and added: "I hope you will tell me right away? You are my secret agent. With love."

The indictment alleges that on March 28, 2022, Slater sent classified information “regarding military targets in Russia’s war against Ukraine” and that on April 13 he sent information “regarding Russian military capabilities relating to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.”

Slater worked in a classified space at U.S. Strategic Command — headquartered at Offutt Air Force Base just outside Omaha, Nebraska — and had a “top secret” security clearance from around August 2021 to April 2022, the Justice Department said.

Starting in February 2022, the month that Russia invaded, he attended Strategic Command classified briefings about Russia’s war against Ukraine, the indictment says.

Slater, of Nebraska, is charged with one count of conspiracy to disclose national defense information and two counts of unauthorized disclosure of national defense information.

“The Department of Justice will seek to hold accountable those who knowingly and willfully put their country at risk by disclosing classified information," Olsen said.

Slater pleaded not guilty in federal court Tuesday and was released from custody on conditions, court records show.

The release conditions are that Slater must give up his passport, remain in Nebraska, and he may only use a phone connected to the internet as long as authorities can monitor his activities on it, The Associated Press reported.

A federal public defender listed as representing Slater did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

This article was originally published on NBCNews.com