The retired US Army lieutenant colonel faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of sharing secret information about the Russia-Ukraine war with a scammer posing as romantic connection.

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

March 5, 2024

2 Min Read
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A US Air Force civilian employee was charged with three counts of conspiracy to disclose secret information after allegedly falling for a romance scam online and disclosing national secrets.

David Franklin Slater, a 63-year-old retired US Army lieutenant colonel from Nebraska working at US Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base, held a top-secret security clearance from August 2021 to April 2022. During this time, he attended multiple secret briefings regarding the Russia-Ukraine war.

Slater reportedly developed a relationship with a person he believed to be a woman in Ukraine through a foreign dating app. At her request, he transmitted secret national defense information (NDI) acquired from these briefings through the same dating app.

Divided into three different tiers of severity, NDI can either be Confidential, meaning it could cause damage to US national security, Secret, meaning it could cause "serious damage," or Top Secret, meaning it could cause "exceptionally grave damage" to the US. The information that Slater sent via the dating app to his co-conspirator was classified as Secret.

The messages sent from the co-conspirator in Ukraine requested this secret information multiple times, saying things like: "American Intelligence says that already 100 percent of Russian troops are located on the territory of Ukraine. Do you think this information can be trusted?" and "Dave, it's great that you get information about [unspecified country] first. I hope you will tell me right away? You are my secret agent. With love."

Slater was arrested on March 2 after he "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," according to Matthew G. Olsen, assistant attorney general of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

If convicted, he will serve a maximum penalty of 10 years with three years of supervised release alongside a fine of $250,000 for each count against him. 

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