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Air Force employee accused of sharing classified info on a dating website

A view of a lectern at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on April 18, 2019. A retired U.S. Army officer has been accused accused of leaking classified national defense information related to the Russia-Ukraine war on a foreign dating website.
Brendan Smialowski
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AFP via Getty Images
A view of a lectern at the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., on April 18, 2019. A retired U.S. Army officer has been accused accused of leaking classified national defense information related to the Russia-Ukraine war on a foreign dating website.

A 63-year-old civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force has been arrested and indicted for allegedly disclosing secret national defense information related to Russia's war with Ukraine, officials said.

In a news release posted Monday, the Justice Department said David Franklin Slater of Nebraska, who was arrested on Saturday, allegedly shared the classified information on a foreign online dating platform.

Slater supposedly shared the information with a female claiming to be in Ukraine in early 2022, starting around the time when Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 of that year.

"The Department of Justice will seek to hold accountable those who knowingly and willfully put their country at risk by disclosing classified information," said Assistant Attorney General Matthew Olsen of the DOJ's National Security Division.

Authorities say Slater was a retired Army lieutenant colonel before being assigned to a classified space in the U.S. Strategic Command.

Prosecutors allege that Slater attended top classified briefings related to the war, and then shared details about military targets and Russian capabilities to the female, who called Slater her "secret information love" and "secret agent" in their messages.

According to the indictment, the unidentified alleged co-conspirator would regularly ask Slater to provide her with "sensitive, non-public, closely held" information.

"When people violate the trust given to them to safeguard our nation's intelligence, they put our country at risk," said Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel of the FBI's Omaha Field Office.

If convicted, Slater faces a maximum of 10 years in federal prison, three years of supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000 for each of the three counts in the indictment.

Slater is due to make his first court appearance in Nebraska on Tuesday. A lawyer was not listed for him.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Diba Mohtasham

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