Ex-NSA Employee Sentenced Following Espionage Conviction

U.S. military veteran and former employee of the National Security Agency has been sentenced to more than two decades behind bars this week in connection with his conviction on charges related to selling classified documents to a buyer he believed to be a Russian operative.

According to reports, 32-year-old Jareh Sebastian Dalke agreed to sell the information to an individual in 2022 — but instead of a Russian official, the buyer was an undercover FBI agent. Dalke subsequently pleaded guilty to espionage charges and even his attorneys acknowledged that he deserved to spend a considerable amount of time in prison.

The defense team recommended a sentence of 14 years, arguing that his case warranted some leniency since the classified material did not actually make it to America’s adversaries as he had intended.

Public defender David Kraut told the court that Dalke sustained a traumatic brain injury and lived with the effects of childhood trauma, noting that he had attempted suicide on multiple ocasions. Part of the defense included evidence suggesting that individuals who experienced trauma at a young age are more likely to participate in dangerous activities later in life.

Dalke portrayed himself as “remorseful and ashamed,” indicating that his actions were impacted by post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder, though the judge pointed out that there was no authoritative evidence presented to back up those claims.

In his decision this week, U.S. District Judge Raymond Moore settled on a 262-month sentence, noting that he could have imposed an even harsher punishment.

“This was blatant,” the judge declared at the hearing on Monday. “It was brazen and, in my mind, it was deliberate. It was a betrayal, and it was as close to treasonous as you can get.”

The sentence imposed by Moore was in line with the request of prosecutors in the case.

“He knew that the disclosure of those documents was expected to cause exceptionally grave danger to the national security of the United States,” concluded FBI Special Agent in Charge Mark Michalek.

As for his motivation for the action of espionage, Dalke asserted that he did not attempt to sell the information out of allegiance to Russia or even because of the $85,000 he had been promised. Instead, he claimed to have been allured by the thrill and said he even suspected that he had been communicating with an undercover agent all along.