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Former NSA employee pleads guilty to attempted espionage

The defendant admitted to attempting to transmit national defense information to an agent of a foreign government.

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Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 31, of Colorado Springs, pleaded guilty today to six counts of attempting to transmit classified National Defense Information (NDI) to an agent of the Russian Federation (Russia).

According to court documents, from June 6, 2022, to July 1, 2022, Dalke was an employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) where he served as an Information Systems Security Designer. Dalke admitted that between August and September 2022, in order to demonstrate both his “legitimate access and willingness to share,” he used an encrypted email account to transmit excerpts of three classified documents to an individual he believed to be a Russian agent. In actuality, that person was an FBI online covert employee. All three documents from which the excerpts were taken contain NDI, are classified as Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) and were obtained by Dalke during his employment with the NSA.

On or about Aug. 26, 2022, Dalke requested $85,000 in return for all the information in his possession. Dalke claimed the information would be of value to Russia and told the FBI online covert employee that he would share more information in the future, once he returned to the Washington, D.C., area.

Dalke subsequently arranged to transfer additional classified information in his possession to the purported Russian agent at Union Station in downtown Denver. Using a laptop computer and the instructions provided by the FBI online covert employee, Dalke transferred five files, four of which contain Top Secret NDI. The other file was a letter, which begins (in Russian and Cyrillic characters) “My friends!” and states, in part, “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.” The FBI arrested Dalke on Sept. 28, moments after he transmitted the files.

As part of his plea agreement, Dalke admitted that he willfully transmitted files to the FBI online covert employee with the intent and reason to believe the information would be used to injure the United States and to benefit Russia.

Dalke faces a maximum penalty of up to life in prison. Sentencing is scheduled for April 26, 2024. A U.S. district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

Assistant Attorney General Matthew G. Olsen of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan for the District of Colorado and Executive Assistant Director Larissa L. Knapp of the FBI’s National Security Branch made the announcement.

The FBI Washington and Denver Field Offices are investigating the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Julia K. Martinez and Jena R. Neuscheler for the District of Colorado and Trial Attorneys Christina A. Clark and Adam L. Small of the National Security Division’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section are prosecuting the case.

Zack Benz

Zack Benz has been a fan of the Daily Planet since he was eight years old. The Daily Planet has always been a beacon of hope for him and it’s his life’s mission to make it shine in a similar light to so many around the world. Zack graduated with a degree in journalism and art from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2019.

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