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Ex-NSA Employee Pleads Guilty for Sell Secrets to Russia

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National Security Agency (NSA)
A former employee of the National Security Agency (NSA) has pleaded guilty to trying to sell classified national security information to Russia. 

Jareh Sebastian Dalke, 31, from Colorado Springs, admitted in court on Monday that he gave sensitive NSA documents to an undercover FBI agent who he believed to be a Russian operative.

According to the Guardian report, Dalke was paid $16,499 in cryptocurrency by the undercover agent for excerpts of some classified documents, which he shared to prove he had access to sensitive information. He then offered to sell additional classified documents he had obtained during his brief employment at the NSA for $85,000.

Last September, Dalke met the undercover agent in downtown Denver and used a secure digital connection to transfer the full set of classified documents. However, immediately after sending the files electronically, Dalke was arrested by FBI agents who had been monitoring the transaction.

In communications with the undercover agent before his arrest, Dalke had indicated he wanted to "cause change" and questioned America's global role. He also cited his Russian ancestry as a reason for his willingness to sell classified information to Russia. Additionally, Dalke claimed he was $237,000 in debt at the time he planned the secret document sale.

According to prosecutors, the classified information Dalke attempted to sell contained a threat assessment report on the military capabilities of an unnamed third country. It also included details about sensitive U.S. defense capabilities related to that country.

Dalke had worked briefly as an information systems security designer at the NSA, giving him access to the classified documents, before leaving after less than a month on the job. Ironically, prosecutors say Dalke later reapplied to work at the NSA even after he had already given some classified materials to the undercover FBI agent.

The plea agreement sets Dalke's prison sentence at around 22 years if he fully cooperates with authorities. He could have faced up to life in prison. Dalke will be formally sentenced in April, but the presiding judge will make the final determination.

As part of the deal, Dalke has agreed to provide federal authorities with truthful information about his case and the classified information he obtained. He has also been receiving treatment for undisclosed mental health issues while in custody for the past year.

Dalke's case underscores the gravity of unlawfully disclosing classified information, even for former employees who had brief stints with government agencies. It also highlights the vigilance of the FBI in probing potential leaks of sensitive information that could impact national security.

Though Dalke was at the NSA for less than a month, he was still able to obtain classified documents and attempt to sell them to Russia before the FBI caught wind and set up a sting operation. The case demonstrates how far enemies of the U.S. will go to obtain protected government information.

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