Updated Mar 5, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Ex-Air Force worker denies sharing classified Russia info on dating site

Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen (R) and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speak at a press conference at the U.S. Department of Justice on on October 24, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Attorney General Merrick Garland (L) and Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

A Nebraska man pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to sharing classified information about Russia's war on Ukraine on a foreign online dating platform while working as a civilian Air Force employee, per multiple reports.

The big picture: Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel David Franklin Slater, 63, of Nebraska, is accused of sending intel to someone claiming to be a woman living in Ukraine from February-April 2022 — a period during which he was attending classified briefings, per the indictment.

  • Prosecutors said Slater was working in a classified space at U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM)'s Offutt Air Force Base and held a top secret security clearance during the exchanges with the woman, who allegedly called him in emails and on the dating site's messaging platform her "secret informant love," "Sweet Dave," and "secret agent."

Zoom in: The DOJ alleged in a statement announcing the indictment that Slater "willfully, improperly, and unlawfully" transmitted classified National Defense Information (NDI) that he had learned from briefings to the woman, identified in the indictment as "Co-Conspirator 1."

  • Military targets and Russian military capabilities relating to Russia's invasion of Ukraine are among the classified NDI Slater is accused of sending in response to the woman's requests.

State of play: Slater was arrested on Saturday on charges of conspiring to transmit and transmitting classified information relating to the NDI.

  • He pleaded not guilty in federal court in Omaha on Tuesday afternoon, where AP reports it was revealed his employment with the Air Force had ended.
  • The judge granted Slater a conditional release if he handed in his passport, remained in Nebraska and agreed to GPS and phone internet monitoring, according to AP.

What they're saying: "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 Olsen of the DOJ's National Security Division, in a statement.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to reflect that Slater pleaded not guilty in court.

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