Former NSA employee tried to sell U.S. defense secrets to foreign government: prosecutors
National Security Agency surveillance (Carsten Reisinger /

According to CNN, a security employee for the National Security Agency is being charged under the Espionage Act for trying to sell U.S. defense secrets to a foreign government.

"The Colorado man, who worked at the NSA for less than a month as an information system security designer, used an encrypted email to send excerpts of three classified documents to someone he believed to be a representative of a foreign government, according to an affidavit. The person was an undercover FBI agent," reported Mary Kay Mallonee and Katherine Dautrich. "The excerpts, which Jareh Sebastian Dalke obtained while employed at the NSA, related to threat assessments of a foreign government’s military offensive capabilities and 'sensitive US defense capabilities,' as well as a US agency’s 'plans to update a certain cryptographic program,' the affidavit said."

"Dalke left the NSA in early July, citing a situation with his family, and began corresponding with the undercover agent weeks later," said the report. "He provided the excerpts as a 'small sample to what is possible,' and soon after transmitted a secret document related to a different US agency that contained information about a foreign leader, as a 'show of good faith,' the affidavit said."

According to the report, the FBI agent paid Dalke $16,000 in cryptocurrency after the first transfers, with Dalke requesting $85,000 for the full trove of information he had.

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Dalke could face life imprisonment if convicted on Espionage Act charges. The statute also allows for capital punishment, although the Biden administration has imposed a moratorium on federal executions.

This comes as the Justice Department is investigating whether the Espionage Act, or several other laws pertaining to classified information, were violated as a part of former President Donald Trump's stash of documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.