Ex-National Security Agency employee from Colorado Springs sentenced for trying to sell US secrets to Russia

NSA Administration builsinf
Posted at 4:41 PM, Apr 29, 2024

DENVER — An ex-National Security Agency employee out of Colorado Springs was sentenced to more than 21 years in prison on Monday for attempted espionage.

Jareh Sebastian Dalke, a 32-year-old Army veteran who lived in Colorado Springs, was sentenced on Monday morning. He faced charges in connection with his effort to transmit classified National Defense Information (NDI) to an agent of the Russian Federation, according to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Dalke, who has degrees related to cybersecurity, worked as an information systems security designer at the National Security Agency (NSA) between June 6 and July 1, 2022. Between August and September, he used an encrypted email account to transmit excerpts of three classified documents to a person he believed was a Russian agent but was actually a FBI online convert employee, the DOJ said. The department said Dalke communicated with the undercover agent thinking he was demonstrating his "legitimate access and willingness to share." In late August, he requested $85,000 in return for the information.

The three documents all contained top secret and sensitive information.

Denver 7+ Colorado News Latest Headlines | April 29, 4pm

On Sept. 28, 2022, Dalke arranged for more classified information to be passed along to who he thought was a Russian agent. He transferred five files, four of which contained top secret information. The other file was a letter that read "My friends! ... I am very happy to finally provide this information to you… I look forward to our friendship and shared benefit. Please let me know if there are desired documents to find and I will try when I return to my main office.”

Dalke was arrested immediately after he sent those additional files, the DOJ said.

According to his arrest affidavit, Dalke told the undercover agent that he had $237,000 in debts, according to the Associated Press. In 2017, he filed for bankruptcy because of student loan and credit card debts, it said. He allegedly told the undercover agent that providing the classified information for payment was “an opportunity to help balance scales of the world while also tending to my own needs," the AP reported.

The documents he shared before his arrest included a threat assessment of the foreign government he believed he was helping, a plan to update a cryptographic program for a federal agency, a threat assessment of sensitive U.S. defense capabilities, some of which relate to the foreign government at issue, and a document related to a “foreign government leader” whose identity or nation is not described, according to the arrest affidavit obtained by the AP.

He pleaded guilty in October 2023 to six counts of attempting to transmit classified NDI to a foreign agent. As part of his plea deal, he admitted he willingly transmitted the files believing the information would be used to benefit Russia and somehow hurt the United States.

NSA Administration builsinf

Local News

Former NSA worker from CO pleads guilty to trying to sell secrets to Russia

The Associated Press
2:20 PM, Oct 23, 2023

He was sentenced to 262 months — nearly 22 years — in prison on Monday.

"This sentence should serve as a stark warning to all those entrusted with protecting national defense information that there are consequences to betraying that trust," said FBI Director Christopher Wray. "Dalke believed he was passing classified information to an agent of the Russian government. The hard work of our FBI employees prevented that from happening and any potential harm to the United States."

FBI Denver Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek said FBI employees work to uphold the Constitution every day.

"But it’s not every day we thwart a would-be spy among our own intelligence community ranks," he said. "Luckily, such an occurrence is rare. If Dalke had been successful, the repercussions would have been severe. The penalty imposed reflects this."

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