Ex-NSA employee faces death sentence after trying to sell US secrets to Russia

Colorado Springs, Colorado - A former National Security Agency employee from Colorado pleaded guilty Monday in connection with his attempt to sell American secrets to Russia for thousands of dollars.

A former NSA employee pleaded guilty to trying to sell US secrets to an undercover FBI agent acting as a Russian spy.
A former NSA employee pleaded guilty to trying to sell US secrets to an undercover FBI agent acting as a Russian spy.  © Collage: 123RF/maksymkapliuk & Paul J. RICHARDS / AFP

Jareh Sebastian Dalke, a 31-year-old Colorado Springs resident, pleaded guilty to six counts of attempting to transmit national defense information to a foreign government. As part of the agreement, prosecutors said they will recommend 262 months in prison – though a federal judge will ultimately determine the sentence.

He faced a potential death sentence after being charged last year with three violations of the Espionage Act.

Dalke, as part of a plea deal, admitted to transmitting files last year to an undercover FBI agent with the intent to injure the US and benefit Russia, according to the agreement.

Russia opens "financing terrorism" probe implicating Western countries
Russia Russia opens "financing terrorism" probe implicating Western countries

Between August and September 2022, Dalke used an encrypted email account to send excerpts of three classified documents to the FBI agent, believing them to be a Russian agent, authorities said. He requested $85,000 in exchange for the classified information.

He told the agent that "he had taken highly sensitive information relating to foreign targeting of US systems, and information on US cyber operations, among other topics," prosecutors said.

Dalke then arranged to transfer additional information to the supposed agent at Denver’s Union Station.

NSA worker became "disillusioned" with US

Jareh Sebastian Dalke was arrested in September 2022 after sending highly sensitive NSA files to the undercover agent.
Jareh Sebastian Dalke was arrested in September 2022 after sending highly sensitive NSA files to the undercover agent.  © PAUL J. RICHARDS / AFP

In an incriminating letter included in court documents, Dalke wrote: "My friends! I am very happy to finally provide this information to you… I look forward to our friendship and shared benefit. Please let me know if there are desired documents to find and I will try when I return to my main office."

Moments after he sent the files on September 28, 2022, the FBI arrested Dalke.

He is set to be sentenced April 26.

Russia ends monitoring of UN's North Korea sanctions amid reports of arms transfers
Russia Russia ends monitoring of UN's North Korea sanctions amid reports of arms transfers

The former US Army private filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2017, saying he owed tens of thousands in student loan and credit card debt.

Investigators say Dalke expressed disillusionment with the US and its treatment of military service members. He reached out to Russia, authorities said, after learning of his familial ties to the country.

Cover photo: Collage: 123RF/maksymkapliuk & Paul J. RICHARDS / AFP

More on Russia: