Former NSA employee admits trying to sell top secret info to Russia

Jareh Dalke was actually communicating with an undercover FBI employee.

October 23, 2023, 6:14 PM

A former National Security Agency employee pleaded guilty on Monday to attempting to sell classified documents to a person he believed was a Russian agent -- but who was actually an undercover FBI employee.

Jareh Dalke, 31, pleaded to six counts of attempting to transmit national defense information to a foreign government, admitting that in August and September of 2022 he sought to sell copies of three classified documents containing information marked top secret-SCI (for sensitive compartmented information) to a person who identified themselves as an agent from Russia, according to plea documents.

But that person was actually an online covert employee working with the FBI, the plea agreement shows.

Dalke, an Army veteran living in Colorado, began working as a civilian employee at the NSA in 2022, according to prosecutors. He first shared excerpts of three classified documents with the undercover agent in August 2022 as a "small sample [of] what is possible" and received large sums of cryptocurrency as payment.

"There is an opportunity to help balance scales of the world while also tending to my own needs," he wrote at one point.

PHOTO: National Security Agency seal is displayed on a mobile phone screen in an illustration photo.
National Security Agency seal is displayed on a mobile phone screen in an illustration photo.
NurPhoto via Getty Images

He later requested $85,000 for all of his information, which he claimed would be of value to Russia, according to his plea deal.

He agreed to transfer more classified material at a meeting at Union Station in downtown Denver and sent five files containing top secret information, the plea agreement shows.

"My friends!" he wrote in a letter accompanying the documents, according to the plea filing. "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."

Agents immediately placed him under arrest after he transmitted the data.

Dalke will be sentenced on April 26, 2024, prosecutors said. Under the terms of his deal, if satisfied, the government will ask for a sentence of no more than 21 years and 10 months in prison.

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