Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 31, of Colorado Springs, pleaded guilty Monday to attempting to sell U.S. classified defense information to Russia. Only, the agent he believed was representing Moscow was in fact an undercover federal officer.
Dalke is a former National Security Agency (NSA) employee. He faces a possible life sentence on six counts of attempting to transmit classified National Defense Information to an officer or agent of a foreign government.
Under his plea agreement, prosecutors will not request over 22 years in prison. The final decision, however, will be made by the judge.
Dalke is an Army veteran who was employed as an Information Systems Security Designer for the NSA. He reportedly confessed his guilt in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore.
He is believed to have told Moore that he had been on medication for mental illness while incarcerated for the previous year.
Dalke said he was $237,000 in debt but also motivated by wanting to “cause change” in the U.S. He allegedly admitted that he believed the U.S. damaged the world.
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He also reportedly cited ancestral “ties” to Russia.
Investigators said Dalke was paid $16,499 in cryptocurrency in 2022 for providing excerpts of documents he claimed to have. According to the plea deal, he then offered to sell the remainder of the materials for $85,000.
The undercover agent told him to go to a Denver train station on Sept. 28, 2022 to electronically deliver the documents. The “Russian” gave Dalke a four-hour window to use a digital connection and provide the classified materials.
The then-NSA employee reportedly began his task by thanking the people he believed were paying him. Then, writing in Russian, he anticipated “our friendship and shared benefit.”
But FBI agents swarmed in and arrested him just moments after all of the files were transferred.
The classified materials he believed he was supplying the Kremlin included a threat assessment of an unidentified third country, according to the indictment. The documents also detailed U.S. defense capabilities related to that nation.
Dalke had worked at the NSA for less than a month. However, prosecutors said that after he left the agency and initially gave information to the undercover agent, he reapplied to work there again.