Retired Military Officer Charged with Leaking Secrets

( – US service members take an oath, promising to protect the country from enemies foreign and domestic. Occasionally, someone breaks that oath. That’s what a retired military member is accused of doing.

On March 4, the Department of Justice announced the arrest of 63-year-old David Franklin Slater for allegedly conspiring to transmit as well as transmitting classified national defense information (NDI). He was a civilian Air Force employee assigned to the US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM).

Slater held a Top Secret security clearance from August 2021 until April 2022, after he retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 2020. The DOJ alleges that Slater attended USSTRATCOM briefings about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The briefings were classified as Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TC/SCI). After attending the briefings, he reportedly transmitted the information he learned through a foreign dating website’s messaging platform.

The co-conspirator he was communicating with on the platform allegedly continued to ask Slater to give her classified NDI. The retired lieutenant colonel responded by giving her information about Russian military capabilities and military targets.

The indictment against the former military member included examples of messages he received. One message stated: “Dave, I hope tomorrow NATO will prepare a very unpleasant ‘surprise’ for Putin! Will you tell me?”

On March 5, Slater appeared before Magistrate Judge Michael Nelson in an Omaha, Nebraska, courtroom. He answered a series of questions, then pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. The judge ordered the defendant to hire his own attorney after reviewing his finances.

Slater surrendered his passport and agreed to be under GPS monitoring while out on bail. He’s required to remain in Nebraska. The judge allowed him to use a phone with an internet connection, but federal authorities will monitor all of his activity.

If convicted, Slater is facing 10 years in prison, a fine of up to $250,000 for each conspiracy count, and three years of supervised release.

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