The cybersecurity staff member is accused of trying to pass sensitive material to a foreign agent
A former employee of the US National Security Agency has been accused of trying to pass classified information to a person he believed to be “working for a foreign government”, according to the Department of Justice.
The DOJ announced federal espionage charges against Jareh Dalke, 30, on Thursday, claiming the former NSA information systems security designer tried to sell sensitive information to an FBI agent posing as for a foreign intelligence officer between July and August.
“Dalke told this individual that he took very sensitive information regarding foreign targeting of US systems and information about US cyber operations, among other matters,” the department said in a statement, adding that the NSA worker “transmitted excerpts of three classified documents to undercover FBI agent” to prove that he owned the material.
Two of these documents were marked Top Secret, while the third was at a lower classification level.
The undercover agent eventually sent Dalke an unspecified amount of cryptocurrency to receive the information, and Dalke promised to provide more in exchange for an additional $85,000.
While the Justice Department noted that the man served as a cybersecurity employee at the NSA for a short time between June 6 and July 1, it said Dalke was no longer working for the agency when he was communicating with the FBI agent. They said he had “re-asked the NSA” in August after taking “a temporary assignment in the field” in another government agency, though it’s unclear why he quit working for the spy agency to begin with.
Dalke would have agreed to transmit additional material “using a secure connection established by the FBI in a public place” in Denver, Colorado, but was arrested trying to get to the site on Wednesday. He faces three counts of violating the Espionage Act, a sweeping law dating back to World War I that carries the death penalty.