Retired US colonel facing 30 years in prison for ‘sharing military secrets on dating site’

US Air Force
US Air Force

A US air force employee has been charged with sharing military secrets on a dating website with a person who claimed to be a woman living in Ukraine.

David Franklin Slater, 63, who was arrested on Saturday, works in a civilian role for the air force, having previously held a senior role at US Strategic Command (Stratcom), which oversees the US nuclear missile arsenal.

Prosecutors say he was described as “my secret informant” by the person on the website and he illegally transmitted documents that “could be used to the injury of the United States”.

The retired US army lieutenant colonel, who held a top secret security clearance at US Strategic Command, attended classified briefings on the war in Ukraine between February and April 2022 – around the start of Russia’s invasion – according to charging documents.

Prosecutors say Mr Slater, who lives in Nebraska, then sent classified information to someone who claimed to be a woman living in Ukraine.

According to the charging document, the two communicated via email and through the online messaging platform of an unnamed foreign dating website.

‘You are my secret informant love!’

Mr Slater was frequently asked in online conversations about US national defence secrets, added prosecutors, who also revealed alleged messages sent by the person on the dating site in 2022.

“Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting,” read one of the messages, sent on March 11.

“You are my secret informant love! How were your meetings?” the person wrote four days later.

Western support for Ukraine, including the supply of weapons, was a topic of particular interest.

“Sweet Dave, the supply of weapons is completely classified, which is great!” read one message sent on April 12.

Mr Slater was also asked to provide information on Nato.

“Beloved Dave, do Nato and Biden have a secret plan to help us?” Mr Slater was asked. “You are my secret agent. With love.”

Another read: “Dave, I hope tomorrow Nato will prepare a very ‘unpleasant surprise’ for Putin! Will you tell me?”

Unauthorised disclosure

Mr Slater faces one charge of conspiracy to disclose national defence information and two charges of unauthorised disclosure of national defence information.

He faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted on all charges. He is due to appear in court in Nebraska on Tuesday.

US Attorney Susan Lehr said: “Certain responsibilities are incumbent to individuals with access to top secret information. The allegations against Mr Slater challenge whether he betrayed those responsibilities.”

Meanwhile, Jack Teixeira, the 22-year-old charged with leaking classified US military documents to fellow gamers on a social media platform, has agreed to accept a prison sentence of 16 years.

Prosecutors claimed he leaked classified records – including documents on Ukraine’s air defences, South Korea’s ammunition concerns and Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency – to a group of gamers on the Discord messaging app. At the time he was working in cyber defence for the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

Teixeira has agreed to plead guilty to all six charges relating to wilful retention and transmission of national defence information.