Former NSA Employee Sentenced 22 Years For Trying To Sell Secrets To Russia

hero headquarters National Security Agency Fort Meade Maryland
A 32-old Colorado man who previously worked at the National Security Agency (NSA) has been sentenced to 262 months—close to 22 years—in prison for selling National Defense Information (NDI) to a spy from the Russian Federation. Except that the "Russian spy" was actually an undercover FBI agent. 

Jareh Sebastian Dalke, a former employee of the National Security Agency, was caught with his proverbial pants down for providing what he thought was a Russian spy with top secret NDI for a rather paltry $85,000. While Dalke was still employed as an Information Systems Security Designer at the NSA in 2022, he began exchanging communication with who he assumed was a Russian agent. Dalke proposed to provide national defense information in return for $85,0000 in payment. Dalke claimed that "the information would be of value to Russia and told the FBI online covert employee that he would share more information in the future".

Dalke, originally from Colorado Springs, provided email excerpts of the secret documents via an encrypted email provider. When both parties agreed to the terms, Dalke met his Russian connection at Union Station in downtown Denver. According to the filing, with a laptop and instructions provided by the FBI covert employee, Dalke transferred four top secret NDI documents that presumably contained highly-classified national defense information. The FBI arrested Dalke moments after he transmitted the files on September 28, 2023.

During his trial a month later, Dalke pleaded guilty to the charges, citing debt as one of his primary motivators. He had previously filed for bankruptcy in 2017, owing $90,000 in total, including $30,000 in student loans. The other (arguably more poignant) motivation was that Dalke has recently discovered he had Russian roots. In the court report, Dalke said he reached out the Russian spy as "part of why I have come to you as opposed to others." He also said that he joined the NSA because he "questioned our role in damage to the world in the past and by mixture of curiosity for secrets and a desire to cause change.”

In the DOJ press release, FBI Director Christopher Wray said, "This sentence should serve as a stark warning to all those entrusted with protecting national defense information that there are consequences to betraying that trust." Attorney General Merrick Garland added that, "This sentence demonstrates that that those who seek to betray our country will be held accountable for their crimes."
Tags:  security, FBI, spy, DoJ, NSA