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Former NSA employee charged with trying to give classified information to foreign country

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

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

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

At the end of July 2022, Dalke began communicating with the person he thought worked for a foreign government. He wrote that he “recently learned that my heritage ties back to your country, which is part of why I have come to you as opposed to others.”

He told the undercover FBI employee that he had applied to work at the NSA 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.”

Dalke allegedly divulged to his contact that he had “exfiltrated some information that is of a very high level,” describing it as relating to foreign targeting of U.S. systems and information on cyber operations. He later added that he needed money.

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

Dalke has a background in cybersecurity, and his resume, according to the complaint, shows he is proficient in Russian and Spanish. He served in the Army from 2015-2018 and started working as a civilian NSA employee in June, 2022, serving in that role only until July 1, 2022.

He was a security designer at an NSA facility in the Washington, D.C., area and acquired a top-secret security clearance, as well as Sensitive Compartmented Information access.

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

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

A day later, he allegedly applied for an external job at NSA and later transmitted the documents and accepted the crypto payment — he requested $85,000 in return for all the information in his possession and told the undercover agent he’d be willing to continue to provide more info for future payments, since he was in significant debt.

As recently as this past Sunday, Dalke and an unnamed resident traveled to an Ikea in Centennial, Colo., where they appeared to be scouting locations to drop more information a day ago, on Wednesday. 

Dalke appeared in court 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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