A US Army doctor and their anaesthetist wife have been arrested in connection with a plot to hand over classified documents to the Russian government.
An indictment published by the US Justice Department from the names Jamie Lee Henry, an Army major at Fort Bragg who had a secret security clearance, and Henry’s wife, Russian-speaking anaesthetist Anna Gabrielian.
The indictment describes Henry as male, although Henry had gone public in 2015 as the first openly transgender Army officer.
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Marcia Murphy, a spokeswoman for the US attorney’s office in Baltimore, told NBC News that Henry had identified himself as a male during a meeting with an undercover FBI agent.
The two would-be spies were snared in a sting operation when they agreed to pass “individually identifiable health information,” about US military intelligence personnel to the undercover FBI agent posing as a Russian government employee.
The FBI had been alerted to the pair’s scheme to betray the US in August after Henry and Gabrielian contacted the Russian embassy in Washington DC, and an agent was dispatched to contact them.
Henry told the agent that after the start of the invasion of Ukraine he had wanted to help Russia any way he could.
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He told them: “The way I am viewing what is going on in Ukraine now, is that the United States is using Ukrainians as a proxy for their own hatred toward Russia.”
However Gabrielian told the agent that Henry was a “coward” who was afraid of breaking the strict laws about medical confidentiality, while she didn’t care about the law and broke it “all the time”.
The couple met the undercover agent in a Baltimore hotel where Gabrielian told the undercover FBI agent “she was motivated by patriotism toward Russia to provide any assistance she could to Russia, even if it meant being fired or going to jail,”
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During the meeting, Henry is alleged to have told the undercover FBI operative: “My point of view is until the United States actually declares war against Russia, I’m able to help as much as I want”, adding . “At that point, I’ll have some ethical issues I’ll have to work through.”
“You’ll work through those ethical issues,” Gabrielian allegedly replied.
If convicted, the couple face a maximum of five years in jail for conspiracy and a further ten years for each count of disclosing individually identifiable health information.
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