A retired Army officer passed secrets via a dating website to someone claiming to be a woman in Ukraine in online chats that mixed teasing sweet talk in broken English with specific requests for classified information, federal prosecutors claim.

“Beloved Dave, do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us?” read one note, according to court documents. “Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting,” said another.

On the same day that Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira pleaded guilty to sharing classified information on Discord servers, the Justice Department announced they had arrested retired Army Lt. Col. David Franklin Slater, 63,  for allegedly using a foreign dating website to provide national defense information to the person claiming to be a woman in Ukraine.

Federal prosecutors say Slater, then an Air Force civilian employee, provided the woman with classified information, including military targets in Russia’s war against Ukraine along with data about Russian military capabilities, according to an indictment against him, which the Justice Department has publicly released.

At the time of the alleged communications, Slater worked at U.S. Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, which has purview over the nation’s nuclear arsenal, the indictment says. Slater held a Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information security clearance and had signed a non-disclosure act.

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From August 2021 to April 2022, Slater worked with classified information at STRATCOM and attended briefings about Russia’s war in Ukraine that were classified up to Top Secret/SCI, the indictment says.

Between February and April 2022, the woman in Ukraine repeatedly asked Slater to give her classified national defense information, according to the indictment, which includes several of the woman’s messages to Slater such as:

  • “Dear, what is shown on the screens in the special room?? It is very interesting.”
  • “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?”
  • “Beloved Dave, do NATO and Biden have a secret plan to help us?”
  • “Dave, it’s great that you get information about [Specified Country 1] first. I hope you will tell me right away? You are my secret agent. With love.”
  • “Sweet Dave, the supply of weapons is completely classified, which is great!”

The indictment only identifies the person who claimed to be a woman living in Ukraine as “Co-Conspirator 1.”  The dating website that Slater allegedly used to send messages to her is not named in the indictment.

Prosecutors accuse Slater of working with “other co-conspirators, known and unknown” to share national defense classified information about the war in Ukraine to people not entitled to receive it. The indictment does not include any specific information about who these other co-conspirators might be.

Slater has been charged with Conspiracy to Disclose National Defense Information, and two counts of Unauthorized Disclosure of National Defense Information, the indictment says.

“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 Justice Department news release says. “A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.”

Task & Purpose was unable to reach Slater by phone or email on Tuesday. The indictment did not include any information indicating that he is represented by an attorney,

A STRATCOM spokesman told Task & Purpose that Slater had worked as an Air Force civilian employee in the command’s Logistics Directorate until 2022.

Slater is a prior enlisted soldier,  served on active duty in the Army as a logistician from August 1981 to August 1984, and then again from July 2008 until December 2020, according to his service record, which was provided to Task & Purpose. Between December 1984 and July 2008, Slater served in the Army Reserve.

He deployed to Iraq from December 2003 to December 2004; and he made three deployments to Afghanistan from July 2010 to July 2011, from May 2014 to May 2015, and from March 2019 to February 2020. Slater also deployed to Qatar between February 2016 and February 2017.

This is the latest case of a service member or veteran being accused of wrongfully sharing classified information. Navy Chief Petty Officer Bryce Steven Pedicini is accused of providing an unnamed foreign government with sensitive information.  

Separately, Navy Petty Officer Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, was sentenced in January to two years in prison for providing information and documents to a Chinese spy. Another sailor Jichao Wei – also known as Patrick Wei – was also arrested in 2023 for allegedly spying for China.

Navy veteran Jonathan Smay Toebbe was sentenced to 19 years in prison in 2022 after agreeing to make several “dead drops” with an FBI agent posing as a foreign intelligence officer. Law enforcement observed Toebbe leave SanDisks hidden in various items, including a peanut butter sandwich.

These incidents do not indicate that the U.S. military faces a problem of espionage within the ranks, Air Force Maj. Gen. Pat Ryder, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters on Tuesday.

“But we also recognize the fact that insider threats are something that need to be taken seriously, which is why every single member of the Department of Defense – whether you are a basic trainee or a two-star general or above – is going to take training on the proper handling and safeguarding of sensitive information,” Ryder said at a Pentagon news briefing. “And if you violate those rules, you will be held accountable.” 

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