Air Force Employee Indicted for Transmitting Classified Info

A civilian employee of the U.S. Air Force assigned to the U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), at Offutt Air Force Base, was arrested Saturday, March 2, for allegedly conspiring to transmit and transmitting classified information relating to the national defense (National Defense Information or NDI) on a foreign online dating platform beginning in or around February 2022 until in or around April 2022.

According to the indictment, David Franklin Slater, 63, of Nebraska, worked in a classified space at USSTRATCOM and held a Top Secret security clearance from in or around August 2021 until in or around April 2022, after retiring as a Lieutenant Colonel from the U.S. Army. It is alleged that Slater willfully, improperly, and unlawfully transmitted 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, on a foreign online dating platform to a person not authorized to receive such information.

“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.”

“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.”

“The FBI investigates those who choose to illegally use their access to classified information to put our national security at risk,” said Special Agent in Charge Eugene Kowel of the FBI Omaha Field Office. “When people violate the trust given to them to safeguard our nation’s intelligence, they put our country at risk. We will continue working shoulder to shoulder with our partners to protect the American people and uphold the constitution by safeguarding our country’s classified information.”

According to the charging documents, Slater attended USSTRATCOM briefings regarding Russia’s war against 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 on the foreign dating website. The co-conspirator regularly asked Slater to provide her with sensitive, non-public, closely held and classified NDI and called Slater in their messages her “secret informant love” and her “secret agent.” In response to these requests, Slater indeed provided classified NDI to her, including regarding military targets and Russian military capabilities relating to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Slater will make his initial court appearance tomorrow, March 5, in the District of Nebraska. 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. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

The FBI Omaha Field Office and Air Force Office of Special Investigations are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Donald Kleine for the District of Nebraska and Trial Attorney Emma Dinan Ellenrieder of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.