Former National Security Agency employee Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 31, is to be sentenced April 26 when he faces a maximum penalty of life in prison. Photo courtesy of National Security Agency
Oct. 24 (UPI) -- A former National Security Agency employee has pleaded guilty to attempting to sell classified defense information to an undercover agent posing as a Russian spy, federal prosecutors said.
Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 31, of Colorado Springs, pleaded guilty Monday to six counts of attempting to transmit classified National Defense Information to an agent of Russia, according to a release from the Justice Department.
Dalke, a former member of the U.S. Army, was hired as a civilian employee of the NSA in June of 2022, but resigned less than a month later after his request for a nine-month leave to help a family member with a medical condition was rejected.
On July 29, a covert FBI agent sent an email to Dalke, stating that he had been informed that they could discuss issues of mutual benefit, the plea agreement states.
Days later, Dalek began conversing with the agent, and said that he was in financial need and wished to be compensated in cryptocurrency for information he took from the NSA while employed there.
In response to an early August request of proof that he had taken highly sensitive information from his former employer, Dalek sent the agent excerpts of three classified documents, each containing National Defense Information.
"Dalke stated that he was providing the excerpts to demonstrate both his 'legitimate access and willingness to share,' and further noted that excerpts were just a 'small sample to what is possible,'" the plea deal states, adding that the excerpts came from a threat assessment of an unnamed foreign government's military offensive capabilities, information on sensitive U.S. defense capabilities and plans to update a certain cryptographic program.
"Dalke willfully transmitted Excerpt 1, Excerpt 2 and Excerpt 3 to the [FBI agent] with the intent and reason to believe that the information contained therein would be used to injure the United States and to benefit a foreign nation, namely Russia," the agreement states.
In return, the FBI agent deposited nearly $16,500 worth of cryptocurrency in Dalke's account late that month.
Dalke then asked the agent for $85,000 in return for all the information he had taken from the NSA, and arranged to transfer additional classified information to the purported Russian agent at Union Station in downtown Denver.
FBI agents arrested Dalke Sept. 28 at Union Station. Search warrants performed on Dalke's residence, person and vehicle produced several electronic devices, a firearm and a post-it note with handwritten instructions matching those provided by the purported Russian agent for transmitting the files.
Scheduled for sentencing April 26, Dalke faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.