Former NSA employee charged with offering to sell cyber secrets to foreign gov’ts

A 30-year-old former National Security Agency (NSA) employee was charged in federal court on Thursday with attempting to sell sensitive information related to national cyber operations to a foreign government representative.

Jareh Dalke worked as an Information Systems Security Designer at the NSA for less than a month this summer before he allegedly offered to sell classified documents to a person he thought was working for a foreign government.

According to a Department of Justice release, he began sending excerpts of stolen classified information from an encrypted email account to an undercover FBI agent posing as a foreign operative, beginning in late July. 

Dalke allegedly promised the informant the documents pertained to “foreign targeting of U.S. systems and information on U.S. cyber operations, among other topics.”

“Each excerpt contained classification markings. One excerpt was classified at the Secret level, and two excerpts were classified at the Top Secret level. In return for this information, the FBI undercover agent provided the requested cryptocurrency to an address Dalke provided,” the Justice Department explained.

He allegedly repeatedly sent samples of more stolen data between August and September before asking for $85,000 in return. Dalke was arrested by the FBI on Wednesday after arriving at a location in Denver. 

The Justice Department noted that he was only employed from June 6 to July 1 and had been lying about his work with the NSA. He tried to reapply for a position at the agency in August.  

The 30-year-old is now facing three charges related to the Espionage Act.

Dalke is the latest NSA contractor to face charges for leaking sensitive information. Reality Winner spent four years in federal prison after sending a five-page classified document about Russian election meddling to The Intercept. She was also charged under the Espionage Act in 2017.

The charges against Dalke come two days after the Russian government offered full citizenship to Edward Snowden, another former NSA contractor who caused global headlines after leaking troves of sensitive information in 2013 about the agency’s vast surveillance operation.

Jonathan Greig

Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.

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