Ex-NSA Employee Pleads Guilty to Leaking Classified Data to Russia

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Oct 24, 2023NewsroomCyber Espionage / Data Safety

A former employee of the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has pleaded guilty to charges accusing him of attempting to transmit classified defense information to Russia.

Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 31, served as an Information Systems Security Designer for the NSA from June 6, 2022, to July 1, 2022, where he had Top Secret clearance to access sensitive documents. The latest development comes more than a year after his arrest.

“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,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said in a Monday press release.

In reality, the purported agent was an online covert employee working for the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Dalke is also alleged to have requested $85,000 in exchange for sharing the information in his possession, which he claimed would be valuable to Russia, with the promise of sharing more documents in the future.

Cybersecurity

The document transmission, which took place at Union Station in downtown Denver, Colorado, via a laptop, included five files, four of which contained Top Secret National Defense Information (NDI).

Some of the excerpts offered relate to the NSA’s plans to update an unspecified cryptographic program as well as threat assessments related to sensitive U.S. defense capabilities and Russia’s offensive capabilities.

The fifth file was a letter in which Dalke stated, “My friends! I am very happy to finally provide this information to you. . . . I look forward to our friendship and shared benefit [sic]. Please let me know if there are desired documents to find and I will try when I return to my main office.”

Dalke was arrested by authorities on September 28, 2022, moments after the file transfer.

Now having pleaded guilty, Dalke awaits his sentencing on April 26, 2024, and could face a maximum penalty of up to life in prison.

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