Air Force Veteran Accused of Disclosing Classified Data on Aircraft, Weapons in Latest Military Leak Case

A gavel rests on the judge’s bench in the courtroom of the 39th Air Base Wing legal office at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey.
A gavel rests on the judge’s bench in the courtroom of the 39th Air Base Wing legal office at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey. (Staff Sgt. Joshua Magbanua/U.S. Air Force photo)

An Air Force veteran in Florida has been charged with unauthorized possession and transmission of classified material related to U.S. aircraft and weapons, marking the latest case of a current or former service member being accused of mishandling sensitive information.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida announced Thursday that retired Lt. Col. Paul J. Freeman, 68, of Niceville, has been indicted by a federal grand jury on nine counts of retaining and sharing national defense information.

"As alleged in the indictment, Freeman, on multiple occasions between November 2020 and March 2021, transmitted classified national defense information about United States Air Force aircraft and weapons to people not authorized to access the information," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release.

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Prosecutors said in the news release that Freeman could face up to 10 years in federal prison for each of the nine counts. Both the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations are working on the case, the release added.

A service record for Freeman, provided to by the Air Force, shows him as retired from active-duty service. He joined the service in 1975 as an enlisted airman and became an officer in 1984 after graduating from Officer Training School. He served until 2003 as a developmental engineer with the 46th Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base in Florida.

The indictment does not detail the specific information Freeman is accused of disclosing or to whom it was allegedly sent.

Freeman has a detention hearing scheduled for Monday in Pensacola, Florida. An attorney was not listed for him in federal court records, and he could not be reached at phone numbers associated with him in public records.

Freeman's case marks the latest in a string of charges and sentences current and former service members have faced related to mishandling classified and sensitive information.

In March, reported that a 53-year-old civilian employee -- who was also a former Army officer -- at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska, faces charges of providing classified information through an online dating app to someone he believed was a woman in Ukraine.

That same month, Airman 1st Class Jack Teixeira, an Air National Guardsman with the 102nd Intelligence Wing at Otis Air National Guard Base in Massachusetts, pleaded guilty to six violations of the Espionage Act related to leaking highly classified Department of Defense information online in early 2023.

Teixeira faces a sentence that could range from 11 months and up to roughly 16 years -- which could mark one of the strictest sentences in history for such a crime -- under his plea deal. While his sentencing is due later this year, the airman also faces a potential court-martial from the Air Force, reported in May.

In 2022, Lt. Col. Robert Birchum, a retired Air Force intelligence officer, took a plea deal with federal prosecutors and admitted to possessing a thumb drive with 135 documents "containing classified national defense information," including the National Security Agency's collection methods and targets, reported.

And last month, Navy Chief Petty Officer Bryce Pedicini was sentenced to 18 years in prison after being accused of delivering classified information to someone involved with a foreign government.

Related: Court Sentences Chief Petty Officer Bryce Pedicini to 18 Years for Attempted Espionage

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