Former NSA employee sentenced to almost 22 years for trying to sell secrets to Russia

A former National Security Agency employee was sentenced Monday to nearly 22 years in prison for attempting to sell classified information to Russia.

Jareh Sebastian Dalke, a 32-year-old Army veteran from Colorado, had briefly worked at the NSA, prosecutors said, and was reapplying to the agency when he tried to sell classified information to a person he believed worked for the Russian government but who actually worked for the FBI.

“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 FBI,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a statement Monday. The sentence demonstrates “that those who seek to betray our country will be held accountable for their crimes,” he added.

Prosecutors say Dalke exchanged emails in 2022 with an FBI agent who was posing as a Russian agent, saying that he was motivated to share information by “curiosity for secrets and a desire to cause change.”

According to court documents, Dalke claimed he was in debt and told the agent “[t]here is an opportunity to help balance the scales of the world while also tending to my own needs.”

Dalke sent the agent excerpts of some documents in his possession as a demonstration of his “legitimate access and willingness to share,” prosecutors said, and told the agent that he would sell all the information he had for $85,000.

The documents he shared included information on sensitive US defense capabilities, a threat assessment of a separate unnamed country and information on a US cryptographic program.

To make the final exchange in September 2023, the agent instructed Dalke to go to a train station in Denver and send the documents over a secure connection, court documents say. Dalke, who left his phone at home and disabled location-enabled systems in his car, parked by the station, walked inside and transferred five documents through the secure connection on his laptop.

Moments later, prosecutors say, Dalke was arrested by the FBI.

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