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Air Force Employee Charged With Sharing Highly Classified Info on Dating App

A civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force has been arrested and charged with sharing highly classified military information on a dating app, according to an announcement from the U.S. Department of Justice on Monday. And it’s pretty clear from the indictment that whoever this man was talking to knew what she was after.

David Franklin Slater, a 63-year-old from Nebraska, was arrested March 2 and charged with transmitting classified material. Slater, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant colonel, held a Top Secret security clearance and worked at U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base until he was arrested on Saturday.

The indictment alleges Slater was using an unnamed foreign dating site where he provided an unnamed woman with extremely sensitive information about the war in Ukraine. Russia first invaded Ukraine in late February 2022 and the messages quoted in the indictment start on March 7 of that year, less than a month after the conflict began. The war has taken the lives of tens of thousands on both sides over the past two years, with no end in sight.

The messages Slater received from the unnamed woman are peppered with loving phrases and indicate she claimed to be from Ukraine. But they also betray the fact that whoever Slater was actually talking to clearly wanted secret information by using pleasantries that included specific requests for details such as:

  • “American Intelligence says that already 100% of Russian troops are located on the territory of Ukraine. Do you think this information can be trusted?”
  • “Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting.”
  • “By the way, you were the first to tell me that NATO members are traveling by train and only now (already evening) this was announced on our news. You are my secret informant love! How were your meetings? Successfully?”
  • “Beloved Dave, do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us?”

Some of the messages were redacted by U.S. prosecutors in such a way as to not reveal the name of a given country:

  • “Dave, 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.”
  • “Sweet Dave, the supply of weapons is completely classified, which is great!”
  • “My sweet Dave, thanks for the valuable information, it’s great that two officials from the USA are going to Kyiv.”
  • “Dave, I hope tomorrow NATO will prepare a very unpleasant ‘surprise’ for Putin! Will you tell me?”
  • “You have a job in the Operations Center today, I remember, I’m sure there is a lot of interesting news there?”

Slater responded to these romantic messages with classified info, according to prosecutors, including military targets in Russia. The indictment claims Slater responded via email and the dating site between February and April of 2022.

As an ally of Ukraine, the U.S. military has been assisting the country with both weapons and intelligence, some of which has leaked in embarrassing ways—including when 21-year-old airman Jack Teixeira allegedly posted secret intelligence to impress his friends on Discord in 2022. Teixeira was arrested in 2023 and is expected to plead guilty this week.

“Certain responsibilities are incumbent to individuals with access to Top Secret information. The allegations against Mr. Slater challenge whether he betrayed those responsibilities,” U.S. Attorney Susan Lehr for the District of Nebraska said in a statement published online.

“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,” Lehr continued.

Slater is scheduled to make his first court appearance on Tuesday and faces up to 10 years in prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 for each count, according to prosecutors.

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