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Press Release

Former NSA Employee Sentenced to Over 21 Years in Prison for Attempted Espionage

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 32, of Colorado Springs, was sentenced today to 262 months in prison for attempted espionage in connections with his efforts to transmit classified National Defense Information (NDI) to an agent of the Russian Federation.

According to court documents, Dalke pleaded guilty in 2023 to six counts of attempting to transmit classified NDI to a foreign agent. From June 6 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. 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.

“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,” said Attorney General Merrick B. Garland. “This sentence demonstrates that that those who seek to betray our country will be held accountable for their crimes. I am grateful to the FBI Denver and Washington Field Offices for their extraordinary work on this case.”

“This sentence should serve as a stark warning to all those entrusted with protecting national defense information that there are consequences to betraying that trust,” said FBI Director Christopher Wray. “Dalke believed he was passing classified information to an agent of the Russian government. The hard work of our FBI employees prevented that from happening and any potential harm to the United States.”

“Two primary objectives of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado include keeping our citizens safe, and safeguarding the United States of America,” said U.S. Attorney Cole Finegan for the District of Colorado. “Not only is this case an exceptional example of federal law enforcement cooperation, but the sentence Mr. Dalke received today reflects the seriousness of the actions he took in attempt to injure our country and help a foreign government.”

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, 2023, 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.

The FBI Washington and Denver Field Offices investigated 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 handled the prosecution.

Updated April 29, 2024

National Security
Press Release Number: 24-528