Home U.S. Ex-N.S.A. Employee Who Tried to Sell U.S. Secrets to Russia Gets 22 Years

Ex-N.S.A. Employee Who Tried to Sell U.S. Secrets to Russia Gets 22 Years

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Ex-N.S.A. Employee Who Tried to Sell U.S. Secrets to Russia Gets 22 Years

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A former employee of the National Security Agency who thought that he was selling top secrets to the Russians was sentenced on Monday to nearly 22 years in prison, prosecutors said.

The former employee, Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 32, of Colorado Springs, was sentenced to 262 months, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado. He pleaded guilty last year to six counts of attempting to transmit classified national defense information to a foreign agent.

“This defendant, who had sworn an oath to defend our country, believed he was selling classified national security information to a Russian agent, when in fact, he was outing himself to the F.B.I.,” Attorney General Merrick B. Garland said in a statement.

Cole Finegan, the U.S. attorney for the District of Colorado, said Mr. Dalke’s sentence “reflects the seriousness of the actions he took in attempt to injure our country and help a foreign government.”

A lawyer representing Mr. Dalke did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.

From June to July 2022, Mr. Dalke worked as an information systems security designer at the N.S.A. He held a secret clearance for his work with the U.S. Army since 2016 and was given a top security clearance when he started working at the agency, according to an affidavit filed by an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his criminal complaint. He left his job, saying that a family illness required him to be away for nine months and stating that the N.S.A. had been unable to support his leave.

Prosecutors said that around that time Mr. Dalke was engaged in an email exchange with an individual whom he believed to be a Russian agent. To demonstrate his “legitimate access and willingness to share” he used an encrypted email account at the end of July to transmit excerpts from three classified documents.

But his contact was actually an undercover agent for the F.B.I., according to prosecutors.

The three documents from which the excerpts were taken contained national defense information that was classified as top secret and had been obtained by Mr. Dalke during his employment with the N.S.A.

Mr. Dalke requested payment of $85,000 in August 2022 for the information that he had gathered, prosecutors said. He told his contact that he was in “financial need” and that he had nearly $84,000 in debt between student loans and credit cards, according to court records.

Mr. Dalke claimed that the information he was willing to share would be of value to Russia and told the F.B.I.’s undercover employee that he would share more once he returned to the Washington, D.C., area, prosecutors said.

Mr. Dalke “subsequently arranged to transfer additional classified information in his possession to the purported Russian agent at Union Station in downtown Denver,” the U.S. attorney in Colorado said.

Using a laptop computer and following instructions from the undercover employee, Mr. Dalke transferred five files, four of which contained top secret information, the authorities said.

Last year, F.B.I. agents arrested Mr. Dalke on Sept. 28, shortly after he sent those files.

One of those documents was a letter. He opened it with a greeting in Russian. “My friends!” he wrote, and stated, in part, “I am very happy to finally provide this information to you … I look forward to our friendship and shared benefit.”

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