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Air Force Employee Charged With Disclosing Classified Intelligence on a Dating Site

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civilian employee of the United States Air Force was charged with sharing classified information related to the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war on a foreign online dating website, the Department of Justice (DoJ) announced Monday.

The indictment alleges that David Franklin Slater, 63 – a former Army lieutenant colonel who was working in a civilian role for U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) and who held a Top Secret security clearance – transmitted national defense information about the conflict in Ukraine on a foreign online dating platform and over email with an unidentified alleged female co-conspirator.

Slater was arrested Saturday for allegedly conspiring to transmit and transmitting classified information. The DoJ alleged that Slater willfully, improperly, and unlawfully transmitted information relating to the national defense (National Defense Information or NDI) classified as Secret, which he had reason to believe could be used to the injury of the United States or to the advantage of a foreign nation.

“As alleged, Mr. Slater, an Air Force civilian employee and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel, 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 of the Justice Department’s National Security Division. “The Department of Justice will seek to hold accountable those who knowingly and willfully put their country at risk by disclosing classified information.”


According to the charging documents, Slater attended USSTRATCOM briefings regarding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine that were classified up to Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI). Slater then transmitted classified NDI 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 unnamed female reportedly sent him messages, including one that read, “Beloved Dave, do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us?”

She also described Slater in posts as her “secret informant love” and her “secret agent.” By all accounts, it appears that he may have fallen victim to a honeytrap.

“The GS (general service) employee retired USAF LTC really stepped in the mud with his romantic endeavor. He probably was coached and defrauded by a fake account into innocently providing information that resulted in a disclosure of sensitive information. Romance scams are notoriously utilized by the Russian government,” explained Sean C. Timmons, managing partner at the Tully Rinckey law firm in Houston, Texas.

“Diligence, common sense and keen awareness that these scams exist must be top of mind for anyone engaged in using online dating platforms,” Timmons told ClearanceJobs.


If convicted, Slater faces a maximum penalty of 10 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 DoJ noted. It could add up to years in prison

“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. “We look forward to continuing our work with the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations to ensure the safety of our country.”

Slater is also only the latest U.S. citizen to be charged for sharing classified information, and the announcement of his arrest came one day after Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira agreed to a plea deal that could see the 22-year-old sentenced up to 16 years in prison.

The situation could be far worse for Slater.

“This decorated officer faces decades in prison for a crime of the heart in a lonely pursuit of romance that turned out to be a scam,” Timmons continued. “Not only does he face disgrace, humiliation and ruin; but after decades of honorable military service he will likely end his days rotting in jail because he allows himself to fall victim to an online romance scam; that have become all too common. His plight should be a clear warning to others.”

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