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US sailor at nuke HQ charged with leaking classified info to Russian

Air Launch Control System operators from the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron receive training on the new virtual ALCS trainer at Offutt AFB, Neb., June 26, 2020. (Maj. Zack Word, U.S. Air Force photo/Released)
August 13, 2020

A U.S. Navy IT Chief is facing charges for sharing classified information with a Russian national while he worked at the U.S. military command overseeing the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Navy Chief Information Systems Technician Charles T. Briggs has been accused of obtaining an email that contained classified information from a government computer in January of 2019 at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. and sending the information to a Russian national he knew, according to charging documents obtained and reported by Navy Times.

Offutt Air Force Base is the home of U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM), which oversees the U.S. Military’s arsenal of nuclear weapons. STRATCOM is also responsible for the cybersecurity of the Department of Defense’s Global Information Grid (GIG), which encompasses the military’s communications systems and personnel.

It is not known what type of classified information Briggs shared, but the charges state he shared it “with reason to believe the information could be used to injure the United States or benefit a foreign nation.”

Briggs was stationed Offutt Air Force Base between April of 2018 and July of 2019. The charges say Briggs transmitted U.S. national defense information to at least one Russian national as far back as October of 2018 before also obtaining and sending the classified email in January of 2019. Names for Russian nationals listed in charging documents for Briggs are redacted, so it is not clear how many Russian individuals with which he is alleged to have interacted.

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Briggs’ charging sheet also states he is charged with obstructing justice after having notified a Russian national, in January and February of 201, that there was an ongoing investigation into their relationship.

Briggs is also charged with making false official statements in an April 2018 security clearance questionnaire when he wrote “no” in response to a question asking if he had a “close and continuing relationship” with anyone who is not a U.S. national. Briggs is similarly accused of making false official statements on a September 2018 STRATCOM security form.

Briggs also falsely indicated he would be staying in Nebraska during an 11-day leave period in November of 2018. According to the charges, Briggs traveled to Siberia between November and December of 2018.

The charges further state Briggs failed to disclose connections to Russian and Italian nationals as far back as May of 2017.

Briggs enlisted in the Navy in 1998 and made the rank of chief in 2013, according to his service record, also obtained by Navy Times. Prior to working with STRATCOM he was stationed with the Naval Computer and Telecommunications Station in Sicily, Italy, between 2014 and 2018.

Briggs was transferred to Naval Medical Center Portsmouth in July 2019 prior to his pre-trial detention.