Ex-NSA Employee Gets 22 Years in Prison for Leaking Classified Information

Jareh Sebastian Dalke, a former employee for the National Security Agency, was sentenced to spend almost 22 years behind bars for his role in attempting to sell classified information to Russian officials.

Dalke, who is 32 years old and was a veteran of the U.S. Army from Colorado, only worked for the NSA for a brief period of time, according to prosecutors. As he was re-applying to work for the agency longer, he attempted to sell classified information to someone that he believed was working for the government in Russia.

In actuality, the person he had been talking to worked for the FBI.

In a statement released Monday, Attorney General Merrick Garland said:

“This defendant, who had sworn an oath to defend our country, believed he was selling classified national security information to a Russian agent, when in fact, he was outing himself to the FBI. … [This sentence demonstrates] that those who seek to betray our country will be held accountable for their crimes.”

According to prosecutors, Dalke emailed with one FBI agent in 2022. That agent was pretending to be an agent for Russia. In those emails, Dalke wrote that he was motivated to sell this classified information by “curiosity for secrets and a desire to cause change.”

Court documents said that Dalke claimed he was in significant debt, and that he told the agent “[t]here is an opportunity to help balance the scales of the world while also tending to my own needs.”

To demonstrate that he had “legitimate access and willingness to share” the classified information, Dalke sent the FBI agents some excerpts of documents that he possessed. Prosecutors said that he told the agent that he’d sell them the information he had for $85,000.

The sample documents that he shared with the agent included information on the defensive capabilities of the U.S., a threat assessment of another country that was unnamed, as well as information on a cryptographic program the U.S. was undertaking.

The final exchange of information was set for September of 2023. The agent told Dalke that he was to go to a Denver train station and then send the documents via his computer over a secure connection.

Court documents point out that Dalke left his cellphone at his home and disabled the location-enabled systems that are in his car. He then parked near the station and walked inside, then transferred five different documents through a secure connection that he had on his laptop.

Moments after that happened, FBI agents arrested Dalke, according to prosecutors.

Dalke was sentenced to 22 years in prison, which is what government prosecutors had requested. The U.S. District Judge in the case, Raymond Moore, said during the sentencing hearing that he would’ve given him even more time in prison.

He called the sentence of 262 months “mercy” for what he called a calculated action to take the NSA job for the express purpose of selling U.S. security secrets.

As the judge said:

“This was blatant. It was brazen and, in my mind, it was deliberate. It was a betrayal, and it was as close to treasonous as you can get.”