Former NSA Employee Pleads Guilt to Conspiracy To Sell Russia Classified Information
Army Veteran From Colorado Springs Amidst Scheme During Court Hearing
In a major federal case, a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee from Colorado has pleaded guilty to attempting to sell classified information to Russia. Jareh Sebastian Dalke, a 31-year-old army veteran from Colorado Springs, admitted his guilt during a hearing before U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore on Monday, October 23, the Associated Press reported.
Under a plea deal, federal prosecutors will not recommend a prison sentence of more than approximately 22 years for Dalke, who originally faced the possibility of life imprisonment. His sentencing is scheduled for April, with the judge to make the final determination on his punishment.
Dalke was arrested on Sept. 28, 2022, following an undercover operation by the FBI. Believing he was communicating with a Russian agent, Dalke arrived at Denver’s downtown train station with a laptop, where he used a secure connection set up by investigators to transfer classified documents.
According to the indictment, the classified information Dalke intended to supply to Russia constituted a threat assessment of the military offensive capabilities of a third, unnamed country. The documents also detailed sensitive U.S. defense capabilities, some of which pertained to the same unidentified country.
In an unusual twist, Dalke cited his debt of $237,000 and his lineage, which he claimed “ties back to your country,” as reasons for his decision to collude with Russia.
Before transferring the classified information, Dalke sent a thank you letter, framed in Russian, expressing he looked “forward to our friendship and shared benefit,” as per court documents.
Dalke held the position of information systems security designer for the NSA. The U.S. intelligence agency is responsible for collecting and analyzing signals from foreign entities, making Dalke's attempted breach a significant threat to national security.
While in custody for the past year, Dalke acknowledged to Judge Moore that he has been receiving medication for mental illness.
This case underscores the ongoing challenge of maintaining the security of sensitive information in the digital age, especially within institutions such as the NSA that deal with national and global security matters daily. As Dalke awaits his sentencing in April, the incident serves as a stark reminder of the potential risks posed by insiders within intelligence agencies.