A former US army major and his anaesthesiologist wife have been charged with plotting to leak the medical records of US military figures and their families to Russia to assist its war in Ukraine.
Jamie Lee Henry, a former major and doctor at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, and his wife, Dr Anna Gabrielian, were caught offering to disclose the conditions of patients at the army base during an FBI sting operation, according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday.
Dr Henry, who was reported to be the first known active-duty army officer to come out as transgender in 2015, once praised the US military for its response during a difficult transition period.
The pair met with someone they believed was an official at the Russian embassy in Washington, but was in fact an undercover agent, the indictment said.
Dr Henry, 39, was a staff internist stationed at Fort Bragg, the headquarters of US Army Special Operations Command and held a secret-level security clearance.
Dr Gabrielian, 36, is on the staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital, a leading institution in Baltimore. The staff directory at the hospital notes that Dr Gabrielian speaks both English and Russian.
She told an undercover agent that "she was motivated by patriotism toward Russia... even if it meant being fired or going to jail" during a meeting at a Baltimore hotel last month, the indictment stated.
She volunteered to bring her husband into the scheme, saying he had "more helpful information", including about prior military training the United States provided to Ukraine, among other things.
Dr Henry told an undercover agent that he was "committed" to assisting Russia after it began its conflict in Ukraine, according to the indictment, which noted President Joe Biden characterised the incursion as a “brutal assault".
Dr Henry claimed that he had even contemplated volunteering to join the Russian army, but lacked the requisite “combat experience”.
"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," he allegedly told the agent.
The agent in turn advised them to read a book called "Inside the Aquarium: The Making of a Top Soviet Spy," telling the pair it would help them understand what they were about to do.
"It's the mentality of sacrificing everything ... and loyalty in you from day one," the agent said. "That's not something you walked away from."
The couple allegedly offered to provide the agent with private US army medical records in order to help the Russian government.
In a subsequent meeting, Dr Gabrielian told the undercover agent her husband had some reservations about providing healthcare data.
Such a disclosure would violate the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the indictment said.
Dr Gabrielian said her husband was a "coward" to be concerned about violating HIPAA, but she violated the law "all the time" and she would see to it that they could provide Russia with access to medical records from Fort Bragg patients.
By the end of the month, she had handed over healthcare information on current and former military officials and their families, according to the indictment.
It stated the information included records related to the spouse of an employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence, whom Dr Gabrielian pointed out had a medical condition Russia could “exploit.”
The pair have been arrested and charged in relation to the conspiracy and for the disclosure of individually identifiable health information. They were both scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.
If convicted, they face a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison for the conspiracy, and a maximum of 10 years in federal prison for each count of disclosing health information.
The FBI indictment uses male pronouns based on the information they have regarding how Dr Henry refers to himself.