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Jareh Sebastian Dalke of Colorado Springs, Colorado, made his first appearance in court on Thursday after he was hit with espionage related charges for allegedly attempting to transmit National Defense Information (NDI) to a Russian operative.
According to the Department of Justice, Dalke used an encrypted email account to send several classified documents to a person he believed worked for the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service.
“In actuality, that person was an undercover FBI agent. Dalke subsequently arranged to transfer additional classified information in his possession to the undercover FBI agent at a location in Denver, Colorado,” the DOJ said.
Dalke, who was an information systems security designer for the NSA between June and July this year, was arrested on Wednesday when he went to meet up with his contact to allegedly sell classified information.
The DOJ said that Dalke told an undercover FBI agent that he was still working for the agency and that he would exchange secrets for a specific cryptocurrency. The information in question reportedly related to U.S. cyber security.
“On or about Aug. 26, 2022, Dalke requested $85,000 in return for additional information in his possession. Dalke also told the FBI undercover agent that he would share additional information in the future, once he returned to the Washington, D.C., area. Although he was not employed by the NSA while communicating with the FBI, Dalke re-applied to the NSA in August 2022,” the DOJ said.
Court documents show that Dalke allegedly told the undercover agent that he “recently learned that my heritage ties back to your country, which is part of why I have come to you.”
He allegedly also said that he wanted to sell the documents because he “questioned our role in damage to the world in the past and by mixture of curiosity for secrets and a desire to cause change.”
According to the charges, one of the documents that were intended to be sold were classified as “secret,” while two more were “top secret.” He was charged with three violations of the Espionage Act.
Dalke had previously worked as a volunteer with the Colorado Rangers, a state law enforcement group. Colonel Ronald M. Abramson, of the Rangers, said that he was disappointed with the allegations.
“We are enormously disappointed in the allegations but we have to wait for the federal process to run its course,” Abramson told CBS News Colorado. Dalke has since been suspended from work with the Rangers.
If convicted, Dalke could be sentenced to life in prison or execution.