A former intelligence agency employee has been charged with violations of the Espionage Act after he was accused of trying to sell classified information to an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign spy.
Prosecutors said Thursday that Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 30, was an information systems security designer for the National Security Agency from June 6 to July 1.
According to a criminal complaint, Dalke used an encrypted email account in August and September to transmit excerpts of three classified documents he had obtained during his employment to an undercover FBI agent he believed to be working for a foreign government.
The complaint doesn't identify the foreign government, but it says that in trying to verify the agent, Dalke reached out to the SVR, a Russian spy agency.
Dalke later arranged to transfer more classified information to the undercover agent in Denver, according to the complaint. The FBI arrested Dalke on Wednesday after he arrived at the meeting point in Denver.
The criminal complaint says Dalke told the undercover agent that he had taken highly sensitive information relating to foreign targeting of U.S. systems, as well as information about U.S. cyber operations. Dalke told the agent he was still employed by the U.S. government and asked for cryptocurrency in exchange for the information, the complaint says.
To prove he had access to sensitive information, Dalke transmitted excerpts of three classified documents to the undercover agent, the complaint says. One was classified at the "secret" level, and two excerpts were classified at the "top secret" level. The FBI agent sent cryptocurrency to an address Dalke provided, according to the complaint.
Dalke then asked for $85,000 in return for more information, the complaint says. He reapplied for a job at the NSA last month.
Dalke is charged with three violations of the Espionage Act, which makes it a crime to transmit or attempt to transmit national defense information to a representative of a foreign country with intent or reason to believe the information could be used to the injury of the U.S. or to the advantage of a foreign country. The Espionage Act carries a potential sentence of death or up to life in prison.