Former NSA worker gets nearly 22 years in prison for selling secrets to undercover FBI agent

Former NSA worker gets nearly 22 years in prison for selling secrets to undercover FBI agent



In Denver, a former National Security Agency employee, Jareh Sebastian Dalke, received a nearly 22-year prison sentence on Monday for selling classified information to an undercover FBI agent he believed to be a Russian official. Government prosecutors had requested this penalty, which U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore agreed with, stating that Dalke’s actions were calculated and deliberate. Judge Moore described the 262-month sentence as “mercy,” considering Dalke’s betrayal of national security.


Dalke, a 32-year-old Army veteran, pleaded guilty to espionage charges last fall as part of a deal with prosecutors. His attorneys argued for a 14-year prison sentence, pointing out that the information he sold did not reach enemy hands and cause harm. They also cited Dalke’s history of trauma, including a traumatic brain injury and childhood experiences of witnessing domestic violence and substance abuse.


During the sentencing hearing, Dalke expressed remorse and shame, attributing his actions to PTSD, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. He denied ideological motivations or financial gain, suggesting that he was attracted to the thrill of selling secrets and may have believed he was communicating with law enforcement.


Judge Moore expressed skepticism about Dalke’s claims regarding his mental health conditions, noting the absence of expert opinions or hospital records from the defense. Despite Dalke’s assertions, Judge Moore upheld the significant prison term, emphasizing the seriousness of Dalke’s betrayal and the potential harm caused by his actions.


According to court documents, Jareh Sebastian Dalke, who worked at the NSA for approximately one month, expressed a desire to “cause change” after questioning the United States’ actions worldwide. He mentioned being in significant debt and cited his heritage as a reason for collaborating with Russia.


Initially, Dalke received $16,499 in cryptocurrency for providing excerpts of documents to the undercover FBI agent to demonstrate the information he possessed. He later offered to sell the remaining information for $85,000, approximately equivalent to his annual NSA salary, according to the plea deal.


Under the agent’s direction, Dalke went to Denver’s downtown train station on September 28, 2022, to transmit the documents using a secure digital connection within a specified time frame. After sending a thank-you letter in Russian, Dalke transferred all the files from his laptop. FBI agents then arrested him shortly afterward


The indictment indicates that the information Dalke sought to provide to Russia included a threat assessment of a third, unnamed country’s military offensive capabilities. It also contained details about sensitive U.S. defense capabilities related to the same foreign country.


Speaking after the hearing, FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek emphasized that Dalke understood the significant risk posed by disclosing these documents, as they were expected to seriously jeopardize national security. U.S. Attorney for Colorado Cole Finegan also underscored the gravity of Dalke’s actions.

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