Former NSA Worker Sentenced For Espionage

In Denver on Monday, Jareh Sebastian Dalke, a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), was sentenced to nearly 22 years in federal prison for attempting to sell classified information to Russia. The sentence handed down by U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore reflects the severity of Dalke’s actions, which the judge described as “blatant,” “brazen” and “deliberate.”

Dalke, 32, was arrested after he engaged in what he believed was an exchange with a Russian official, who was an undercover FBI agent. He pleaded guilty to espionage charges last fall under a plea agreement with prosecutors. Despite the defense’s plea for a 14-year sentence, citing that the leaked information did not ultimately harm the United States, Judge Moore opted for the stiffer penalty of 262 months, calling it an act of “mercy.”

Sworn testimony provided to the court showed that Dalke was motivated to sell the material because of his personal debt and disillusionment with the federal government. He apparently claimed he was seeking to “cause change” by providing classified information to Russian agents. He had a personal debt of $237,000, although he was paid only $16,499 worth of cryptocurrency before being arrested in September 2022.

Dalke’s defense highlighted his complex psychological and emotional history, including a traumatic brain injury, multiple suicide attempts, and childhood trauma. These factors, his lawyer argued, contributed to his risky behavior. Dalke himself expressed remorse in court, stating he was “remorseful and ashamed,” and acknowledged suffering from PTSD, bipolar disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. The judge was unmoved by those claims and noted for the record that the defendant failed to provide any medical or expert evidence to support his claims of medical disability.   

FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek testified at the sentencing hearing to add context to the national security risks that Drake exposed the country to. He told the court, “He knew that the disclosure of those documents was expected to cause exceptionally grave danger to the national security of the United States.”

 

 

 

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