A former Johns Hopkins anesthesiologist and her spouse, an Army doctor — who are charged with providing sensitive medical information to an undercover FBI agent who they believed was a representative of the Russian government — are seeking to argue that they were entrapped, new court records show.
The trial of Anna Gabrielian and Jamie Lee Henry is slated for May 22. An undercover FBI agent who courted the couple is expected to appear under heavy security and in “light disguise,” federal prosecutors said in recent court papers.
A motions hearing will first be held Friday. Included in new fillings are transcribed comments of five meetings with the agent, which culminated with the Rockville pair providing medical information on two Hopkins patients and five who had received care at Fort Bragg, where Henry was stationed. Gabrielian and Henry were indicted in September on charges of conspiracy to wrongfully disclose individually identifiable health information.
A Johns Hopkins Hospital spokesperson said Gabrielian is no longer practicing but did not provide additional details on the circumstances of her departure.
In a new filing Wednesday, defense attorneys said they plan to argue that they were entrapped. Gabrielian had spotted the undercover agent’s hidden camera during the first meeting, they said, and it was “reasonable to infer” that she feared she was dealing with the KGB and was concerned about retaliation. Her acquiescence in providing medical records was an “attempt to placate” the agent, and they want to argue the couple was entrapped by the government, according to the filing.
Defense attorneys said the FBI was “searching for a crime two doctors would actually be in a position to commit” and persuaded them to “share a few random scraps of medical records related to two JHU patients and five patients treated at Fort Bragg (none active military).”
“That is inducement,” they wrote. “It is also entrapment as a matter of law.”
Prosecutors had sought to preempt an entrapment defense, arguing earlier that the conversations taped in hotel rooms in Baltimore and Gaithersburg should preclude the couple from making any such claims. They noted that Gabrielian had instructed Henry to read a book about Soviet spy recruitment so that Henry could understand “the mentality of sacrificing everything.”
“There is no evidence in the record to indicate any risk that the defendants were anything but ready and willing: the defendants were clearly predisposed to commit the crime that was of their own creation,” federal prosecutors Aaron S.J. Zelinsky and P. Michael Cunningham wrote. “The Defendants were acutely predisposed to commit the offense.”
A naturalized U.S. citizen from Russia, Gabrielian’s first outreach in early 2022 began “naively” with “innocuous” offers of help, her attorney said. It came five days after President Biden authorized sanctions against Russia after it invaded Ukraine.
The anesthesiologist had been spending extra hours helping a Ukrainian colleague at Johns Hopkins who was trying to supply Ukraine with medical assistances — including mobile ultrasounds to improve battlefield treatment, triage and anesthesia — and wanted to offer similar help to her native country.
In a message written in Russian to the country’s embassy in Washington, D.C., she said of herself and Henry: “We are ready to help if there is a need. We support life.”
Henry, a major who had a secret-level security clearance, is asking to be tried separately from Gabrielian, saying they had different motivations for meeting with the undercover agent. While she stated a desire to help Russia, Henry repeatedly made references to being against conflict and war.
“I want the world to be a better place for my kids,” Henry said at one point.
The undercover agent approached Gabrielian in August as she went into work in Baltimore, five months after she sent the emails. The undercover agent said yes when Gabrielian asked if she’d been sent by the embassy, according to court records.
They met in a Baltimore hotel room the next morning. Gabrielian reiterated a general desire to help, but said she wasn’t sure how. She noted she’d “thought about what to write and how to write it” when she’d reached out earlier in the year.
“How can I watch such injustice and do nothing,” she said.
“My job is to collect information and to pass it on,” the undercover agent said.
Gabrielian said she’d be willing to share protocols for different anesthesia. “Whatever we have at Hopkins, you have it too, if you want it,” she said, according to transcribed comments. She offered that Henry could help show how to set up a field hospital and pass along materials related to training programs.
She said she could access patient information, but it would be detected and she would be fired.
Henry joined for the second meeting, also in Baltimore.
“The purpose of me being here is not just to follow up on our communication, but to find friends, right, who can contribute in one way or another to the cause,” the undercover agent said. “And the cause is to not let the world to basically trample Russia and kind of take advantage of the situation where everybody united against.”
“We have more to lose than we do to gain from this. And it’s really my love of country that’s driving me,” Gabrielian said.
When speaking about motivation in a recorded conversation with the agent, Henry said it was “hate of war” and an interest in humanitarian aid, statements that attorney David Walsh-Little say “directly impeach the notion that Dr. Henry’s intention is to assist the government of Russia.”
“My experience having been in the military for 22 years, we instigate a lot. And we are very arrogant and what we think we know and what we can do with the tools that we have. You know, and it has hurt many, many people across the globe,” Henry said.
But prosecutors noted that Henry asked not to be told the undercover agent’s name, sought “plausible deniability,” and had been reading a book at Gabrielian’s request called “Inside the Aquarium: The Making of a Top Soviet Spy.”
“Henry was acting not just out of a ‘hate of war,’” prosecutors wrote. “Henry did not like things its [American] leadership had done, and the position its leadership had taken toward Russia in a variety of different administrations of both parties.”
Attorneys for both defendants are asking that a “political diatribe” from Henry be kept out of the trial.
Henry was recorded saying the U.S. was using Ukraine as “a proxy for their own hatred towards Russia” “because Hillary Clinton lost in 2016.” President Barack Obama, Henry said, was “offended by Putin because Obama is an effeminate man, and he’s intimidated by the values that Putin has just as many Americans are offended by Trump in the way that he presents himself. And I think it’s personality-driven partly, and a lot of people are dying as a result of people’s arrogance and personality, you know.”
Henry also spoke to the undercover agent about “many, many weaknesses of military medicine in the United States,” including a central location that runs the network for the military health care system.
At an Aug. 31 meeting at a hotel room in Gaithersburg, Gabrielian provided health information related to the spouse of an employee at the Office of Naval Intelligence, and a member of the U.S. Air Force.
“Gabrielian highlighted to the UC a medical issue reflected in the records … that Russia could exploit,” prosecutors wrote. Henry then provided medical information related to at least five people who had been patients at Fort Bragg.
The defense says Gabrielian expressed fears of the agent going to jail and that the U.S. government might be following them.
“Defendants knew that the [agent] had filmed Dr. Gabrielian and lied about it,” the defense wrote Wednesday. “Knowing that, fearing that they could go to jail for turning over meaningless medical records, why did Defendants give in to the [agent’s] inducement? Why would anyone?”
The undercover agent continues to work in such a capacity, and a number of restrictions will be put in place if she is called to testify. She’ll testify under a pseudonym and use a “light disguise,” and the courtroom will be closed to only trial participants such as the judge, jury, defendants, prosecutors and other essential personnel, with an audio feed broadcast for the public in a separate room.
“Although there are no specific threats against the UCE, there is a legitimate risk that individuals associated with the Russian Government are actively seeking to identify law enforcement officers and share that information with others,” prosecutors wrote.