An Army officer and his anesthesiologist wife have been charged with trying to provide the personal health information of service members to Russia, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.
Maj. Jamie Lee Henry, 39, and his wife, Anna Gabrielian, 36, were indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday for conspiracy and wrongfully disclosing health information of at least seven people, including patients at the base where Henry was stationed.
Henry was an Army doctor who was stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and held a secret level security clearance, according to the indictment. He gained public recognition in 2015 for reportedly being the first known active-duty Army officer to come out as transgender and the first service member to change names and gender on military records, before a prolonged political debate that eventually led to open service for transgender troops.
Although the BuzzFeed article that profiled Henry seven years ago used female pronouns, Military.com was told by a Department of Justice spokeswoman that Henry used male pronouns in court Friday.
Meanwhile, Gabrielian, according to the indictment, worked as an anesthesiologist at an unnamed medical institution in Baltimore. Her name is listed on a website for Johns Hopkins Medicine as an instructor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine. The site also notes that she speaks Russian.
In the indictment, federal officials allege that it was Gabrielian who hatched the plot around August when she "reached out directly to the Russian embassy by email and phone, offering Russia her and her husband Henry's assistance." The FBI sent an undercover agent who made contact with Gabrielian, and later Henry, and gathered the bulk of the evidence that would serve to charge them.
Military.com reached out to Henry's lawyer for comment and clarification on his pronoun preferences but did not immediately hear back. Gabriellan did not have an attorney listed in court records.
Believing that they were talking to a person connected to the Russian government, Gabrielian and Henry offered up private health information with the idea that the Russian government could use it "to gain insights into the medical conditions of individuals associated with the U.S. government and military [and] to exploit this information," authorities allege.
In their first meeting, Gabrielian told the FBI agent that she made her husband read "Inside the Aquarium" -- a book by Viktor Suvorov that described his recruitment and training by the Soviet Union's secret military intelligence agency -- "because it's the mentality of sacrificing everything."
For his part, Henry was more conflicted, telling the FBI agent that "until the United States actually declares war against Russia, I'm able to help as much as I want."
"At that point. I'll have some ethical issues I have to work through," he added.
Gabrielian replied: "You'll work through those ethical issues."
A week later, when Gabrielian met with the undercover agent, she called her husband a "coward" who was concerned over violating HIPAA privacy laws in their scheme to pass patient records. By contrast, she told the agent that she "had no such concerns and violated HIPAA 'all the time.'"
Ultimately, on Aug. 31, the pair met up with the agent in a hotel in Gaithersburg, Maryland, where Gabrielian offered up information on the spouse of a person working at the Office of Naval Intelligence and an Air Force veteran.
"Gabrielian highlighted to the [undercover FBI agent] a medical issue reflected in the records of [the first patient] that Russia could exploit," the indictment read.
Meanwhile, Henry provided information on five people being treated at Fort Bragg that included a retired Army officer, a current Department of Defense employee, and three spouses of Army veterans -- both living and deceased.
According to court records, the couple even thought ahead to a life on the run or in Russia.
Henry told the FBI agent that he was "committed to assisting Russia and had looked into volunteering to join the Russian Army after the conflict in Ukraine began," a Department of Justice press release explained. However, the indictment says he discovered "Russia wanted people with 'combat experience' and he did not have any."
Gabrielian, meanwhile, came up with an escape plan for the couple's children if the pair "were told to act in a way that could expose their communications and actions to the U.S. government."
"She wanted her and Henry's children to 'have a nice flight to Turkey to go on vacation because I don't want to end in jail here with my kids being hostages over my head,'" the indictment alleges.
According to the Department of Justice, both Gabrielian and Henry had their first court appearances Thursday in Baltimore.
The press release noted that, if convicted, the pair 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.
-- Konstantin Toropin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ktoropin.