Today, we learned of an FBI counterintelligence success with the unsealing of the indictment of Dr. Anna Gabrielian, Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist, and Major Jamie Lee Henry, US Army, Fort Bragg, NC., which charged the two with trying to provide medical information about U.S. military members to the Russian Federation.
Gabrielian, according to the unsealed indictment, had reached out directly to the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. by both email and telephone to volunteer her and her husband, Henry’s services to the Russian Federation following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Gabrielian is an instructor of Anesthesiology and Critical Care Medicine at Johns Hopkins and is fluent in both English and Russian. Henry was a doctor assigned as a staff internist stationed at Fort Bragg. He also held a national security clearance at the Secret level. Her Twitter stream shows her following that she isn’t a fan of the U.S. policies concerning Ukraine.
Interestingly, in a bizarre way, Gabrielian had Henry read “Inside the Aquarium: The making of a top Soviet Spy” to get Henry’s head in the right spot to commit treason. The book by Victor Suvorov details his life as a military intelligence officer.
The treasonous offer
Sometime following the invasion of Ukraine, Gabrielian reached out to the Russian Embassy via both email and telephone. The FBI learned of the offer to volunteer medical information on military personnel and after a suitable period, determined that the Russians weren’t going to follow up on what they no doubt viewed as a provocation. That opened a window of opportunity to determine what Gabrielian had to offer to the Russians.
The FBI’s sting
The FBI hatched their counterintelligence sting, a capability that has been put on display in several recent cases (Navy nuclear scientist for example), and orchestrated an approach to Gabrielian.
On August 17, an FBI undercover (UC) special agent approached Gabrielian, introduced herself by name, and told Gabrielian she was there to talk about the offer which was made some months prior. The UC was asked if she was from the Russian Embassy to which she said she was. And with that exchange, Gabrielian thought she was dealing with a Russian intelligence officer, and the hook was set for the sting operation which followed.
Gabrielian told the UC she was “motivated by patriotism toward Russia to provide the assistance she could to Russia, even if it meant being fired or going to jail.” Doubtful she meant to be so prophetic.
She had thought through aspects of her misdeeds, as at this same initial meeting, Gabrielian focused on cover stories to provide plausible deniability in the event the U.S. government caught wind of their subterfuge. She explained Henry, a Major in the United States Army, had access to information on how the U.S. established military hospitals in war conditions and how the U.S. trained Ukrainian military personnel.
Later in the evening at around 2020 hours of August 17, the UC, Gabrielian, and now also with Henry, met in the UC’s hotel room. Henry explained to the UC how he was motivated to assist Russia and was prepared to volunteer for service in the Russian army. Henry is quoted as saying, “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 hatred toward Russia.” The couple went on to offer to the UC “private medical records from the U.S. Army and Johns Hopkins in order to help the Russian government.”
Henry understood she was not only breaking trust concerning preserving medical privacy, but also with her country and oath of secrecy. Henry told the UC, “my point of view is until the United States declares war against Russia, I’m able to help as much as I want. At that point, I’ll have some ethical issues to work through.” Gabrielian said, “You’ll work through those ethical issues”
The next meeting occurred on August 24, where Gabrielian told the UC that Henry was a “coward” with concerns about violating HIPAA, which didn’t both her in the least, as she violated “HIPAA all the time.”
Over the course of the meetings which followed, the UC was provided with a plethora of information that Gabrielian and Henry thought was going to the Russian Federation, but which should never have been shared. These included health information on:
- The spouse of an Office of Naval Intelligence employee, and highlighted information (prescriptions) which Gabrielian opined was exploitable by the Russian government.
- Veteran of the USAF
- Retired Army officer
- Department of Defense employee
- Spouse of a U.S. Army veteran;
- Spouse of a deceased U.S. Army veteran.
The DOJ advises, “if convicted, the defendants 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.”