Ex-NSA employee accused of trying to give classified information to foreign country

Jareh Dalke, a former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA), has been accused of attempting to transmit national security information to a foreign country. Dalke, a resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado, was arrested Thursday.

According to the criminal complaint, Dalke spoke online with an undercover FBI agent over the summer. He reportedly sent excerpts of three classified documents and an entire classified document in exchange for payment in cryptocurrency.

Investigators wrote that Dalke believed he was sharing the information with an associate in a foreign country “with many interests adverse to the United States.”

In late July 2022, Dalke began communicating with the person he thought was working for a foreign government. He wrote that he “recently learned that my heritage is tied to your country, which is part of why I came to you rather than the others.”

He told the undercover FBI employee that he had applied to work at the NSA because he “questioned our role in causing damage to the world in the past and a mixture of curiosity about secrets and desire to bring about change”.

Dalke allegedly disclosed to his contact that he had “exfiltrated very high level information”, describing it as relating to foreign targeting of US systems and cyber operations information. He later added that he needed the money.

On August 6, Dalke transferred the documents. One excerpt was a cover page of a threat assessment of the foreign government’s military offensive capabilities. Another involved the computer programming of a government agency, and the third was a threat assessment of US defensive capabilities partly related to the foreign government. These documents, according to internal NSA records, were printed on June 17, 22 and 23. NSA systems show that Dalke was the only NSA employee to print the documents in question at the time.

Dalke has a background in cybersecurity and his resume, according to the complaint, shows he is fluent in Russian and Spanish. He served in the military from 2015 to 2018 and began working as a civilian NSA employee in June 2022, only assuming this role until July 1, 2022.

He was a security designer at an NSA facility in the Washington, DC area, and earned a top secret security clearance, as well as access to sensitive information.

Dalke tendered his resignation to the NSA on June 28, 2022, citing a family illness.

On August 10, Dalke is accused of writing to the undercover agent that he was sending another document related to the foreign head of government as a “show of good faith”, adding that he was “willing to provide complete documents without reserve”. This document had a SECRET//NOFORN clearance level.

A day later, he allegedly applied for an external NSA job, then forwarded the documents and accepted the crypto payment — he demanded $85,000 in exchange for all the information he had and told the agent to undercover that he would be willing to continue providing more information for future payments, as he had a large debt.

Just last Sunday, Dalke and an unnamed resident visited an Ikea in Centennial, Colorado, where they appeared to be looking for places to drop off more information a day ago, Wednesday.

Dalke appeared in court on Thursday afternoon. He will remain detained ahead of a hearing next week. His public defenders did not immediately respond to CBS News’ request for comment.

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