Ex-Air Force employee pleads not guilty to sharing classified info on foreign dating site

By Isaac M March 6, 2024

A former Air Force employee and retired Army lieutenant colonel pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges that he shared classified information about Russia’s war with Ukraine on a foreign dating site.

David Franklin Slater was in court in Omaha Tuesday afternoon — three days after the 63-year-old was arrested. Slater, whose gray hair was closely cropped, briefly answered Magistrate Judge Michael Nelson’s questions during the initial hearing.

The federal public defender who represented Slater at the hearing didn’t comment about the case, but Nelson ordered Slater to hire his own attorney after reviewing financial information including details of several rental homes Slater owns in Nebraska along with a property in Germany.

The indictment against Slater gives examples of the messages he was responding to in early 2022 from an unindicted co-conspirator who claimed to be a woman living in Ukraine.

Some of the inquiries investigators found in emails and on the online messaging platform of the dating site were: “Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting.” Another one was: “Dave, I hope tomorrow NATO will prepare a very unpleasant ‘surprise’ for Putin! Will you tell me?”

The messages prosecutors cited in the indictment suggest Slater was sharing some information: “By the way, you were the first to tell me that NATO members are traveling by train and only now (already evening) this was announced on our news. You are my secret informant love! How were your meetings? Successfully?”

Prosecutors said Slater shared information about military targets on March 28, 2022 and also gave out details about Russian military capabilities on April 13, 2022.

The indictment says that Slater shared classified information between February and April of 2022 while he was attending briefings about the war at the U.S. Strategic Command at Offutt Air Force Base. He worked there from August 2021 to April 2022 after retiring from the Army at the end of 2020.

Judge Nelson confirmed during the hearing that Slater no longer has any access to classified information, but prosecutors didn’t share details of why his employment ended.

Nelson agreed to release Slater Wednesday on the condition that he surrenders his passport and submits to GPS monitoring and restrictions to remain in Nebraska. He will also be allowed to use only a phone connected to the internet as long as authorities can monitor his activities on it.


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