Ex-NSA Employee Receives Nearly 22-Year Prison Sentence for Selling Classified Information to Undercover FBI Agent

A former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) was given a prison sentence of nearly 22 years on Monday. This individual had sold classified information to an undercover FBI agent, who he believed was a Russian official. The prosecution had asked for this specific penalty.

U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore deemed the 262-month sentence for Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 32, as an act of “mercy,” acknowledging the calculated nature of his actions to secure a job at the NSA for the purpose of selling national security secrets.

“This act was extremely obvious. It was bold and, in my opinion, it was intentional. It felt like a betrayal, and it was as close to treason as one can possibly get,” commented Moore.

Dalke’s attorneys requested a 14-year prison sentence for the Army veteran, who had pleaded guilty to espionage charges in a deal with prosecutors. They argued that the information he sold in 2022 did not fall into the hands of enemies and cause any harm.

Assistant federal public defender David Kraut made a case for a reduced sentence, highlighting Dalke’s history of a traumatic brain injury, multiple suicide attempts, and childhood trauma involving domestic violence and substance abuse. Kraut emphasized that research has established a correlation between such childhood trauma and an increased likelihood of engaging in risky behavior in the future.

Dalke later revealed to Moore that he experienced a deep sense of remorse and shame. He acknowledged that he too had battled with conditions such as PTSD, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Dalke denied being motivated by ideology or earning money by agreeing to sell the secrets. He also hinted that he may have had a notion that he was actually communicating with law enforcement, but he was drawn to the excitement of the situation.

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Moore expressed doubts about Dalke’s assertions regarding his conditions, as the defense failed to present any expert opinions or hospital records to support their claims.

Dalke, a former NSA employee, expressed his desire to “cause change” and questioned the United States’ impact on the world, as stated in court documents. Additionally, he confessed to being burdened by a debt of $237,000. Furthermore, Dalke claimed that his decision to collaborate with Russia was influenced by his heritage, which holds a connection to the country.

According to the plea deal, Dalke initially received $16,499 in cryptocurrency for providing the agent with excerpts of certain documents as a demonstration of what he possessed. Subsequently, he offered to sell the remaining information for $85,000. Prosecutors argue that this amount is approximately equivalent to his annual earnings at the NSA.

On September 28, 2022, the agent instructed him to head to the downtown train station in Denver. Within a specific four-hour timeframe, Dalke brought his laptop and utilized a secure digital connection to send the documents. As part of the plea deal, it was revealed that Dalke also sent a thank you letter in Russian, expressing his anticipation for a mutually beneficial friendship. However, shortly after transferring all the files, FBI agents apprehended him.

The indictment states that Dalke intended to share information with Russia, which involved assessing the military offensive capabilities of an undisclosed country. Additionally, the information included details about sensitive U.S. defense capabilities, specifically pertaining to the aforementioned foreign country.

FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek, speaking outside court after the hearing, emphasized that he could not disclose the specific contents of the documents. However, he emphasized that Dalke was well aware of the potential risks they presented.

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According to Michalek, it was clear that the release of those documents would pose an extremely serious threat to the national security of the United States. This statement was made during a joint press conference with U.S. Attorney for Colorado, Cole Finegan.

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