Though the United States and Russia are not currently directly engaged in war, Russia is nonetheless still generally regarded as a hostile adversary and rival with national interests that are vastly different from those of the U.S. and many of its allies.
Now two American doctors, one of whom is a U.S. Army major, have been criminally indicted for attempting to pass along the personal medical information of other Americans to aid and benefit the Russian government, Stars and Stripes reported.
Those two indicted individuals are Dr. Anna Gabrielian, an anesthesiologist at Johns Hopkins University, and Major Jaime Lee Henry — the first openly transgender Army officer — who also works at JHU but at the time of the alleged conspiracy was stationed at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, which is home to the Army Special Operations Command headquarters, and held a “secret”-level security clearance.
Federal felony charges
A Justice Department news release on Thursday announced the indictment and arrest of Gabrielian and Henry on eight federal criminal charges that included conspiracy and the unlawful disclosure of “individually identifiable health information,” or IIHI.
If convicted of those charges, the two doctors could face up to five years in federal prison for the conspiracy count as well as up to 10 years in federal prison for each count related to the disclosure of IIHI in an unlawful manner.
Both were scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday in federal court in Baltimore, Maryland, and though Johns Hopkins declined to confirm or deny the employment status of either of them, Stars and Stripes reported that a spokesperson said, “We were shocked to learn about this news this morning and intend to fully cooperate with investigators.”
The alleged conspiracy takes shape
According to the unsealed indictment against Gabrielian and Henry, the alleged conspiracy came into play on August 17 when Gabrielian was contacted by an FBI undercover agent (UC) posing as a member of the Russian Embassy about offers of assistance that the doctor had made to Russia months earlier through emails and phone calls to the embassy.
What followed were several phone calls and in-person meetings at a Baltimore hotel over the next week or two in which the two American doctors reiterated their desire to help Russia and discussed plans to obtain and pass along IIHI about other Americans to somehow aid Russia in its invasion of Ukraine.
The indictment further noted that there was discussion of cover stories and maintaining “plausible deniability” if questioned and a plan was even formed to swiftly evacuate Gabrielian’s children to Turkey if she faced a real risk of being caught and ending up in jail.
Medical records were obtained and provided to an undercover agent
Also discussed in those conversations, of course, were the plans of Gabrielian and Henry to unlawfully obtain and share the medical records of others with what they believed was a Russian contact in order to demonstrate their access, prove their willingness to help, and to provide information that Russia could “exploit” to its own advantage.
In the end, on August 31, Gabrielian allegedly provided the FBI UC with the IIHI of two individuals, an Air Force veteran and the spouse of an employee of the Office of Naval Intelligence, that she had obtained from Johns Hopkins.
As for Henry, he provided the FBI UC with the medical records of five individuals that were obtained from Ft. Bragg, which include a retired Army officer, a Defense Department official, and three spouses of Army veterans.