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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 the Air Force’s U.S. Strategic Command, was arrested Saturday, the Department of Justice said Monday.

Matthew G. Olsen, 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 between approximately February 2022 and April 2022 — a time frame that includes Russia’s Feb. 24, 2022, unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.

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 got 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 of Omaha, Nebraska — and had a “top secret” security clearance from around August 2021 and April 2022, the Justice Department said.

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

Online federal court records did not show an attorney who could speak on Slater’s behalf Monday night. He is due in federal court in Nebraska on Tuesday, the Justice Department said.

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