Two physicians — including a U.S. Army major — were indicted on federal charges amid accusations that they passed along confidential medical information to a person they thought was working for the Russian government, according to court records unsealed in Maryland on Thursday.
The pair passed along information related to at least five people who had been patients at Fort Bragg, including a retired Army officer, a current Defense Department employee and three military spouses, according to federal court records. They also provided medical information related to the spouse of someone employed by the Office of Naval Intelligence that reflected a medical issue that “Russia could exploit,” authorities asserted.
Such sensitive information, along with financial information and private messages, is helpful for adversary intelligence agencies to use as leverage for blackmail or coercion.
The pair were trying to demonstrate how they could be an asset to Russia, according to federal authorities. There is no indication, according to the records, that information ever got to Russia.
Thinking they were talking to a Russian operative, the doctors met the undercover agent at hotels in Baltimore and Gaithersburg to demonstrate “their willingness to provide” confidential medical records and show “the potential for the Russian government to gain insights into the medical conditions of individuals associated with the United States government and military in order to exploit this information.”
It is unclear whether Gabrielian or Henry have retained attorneys. They could not be immediately reached for comment.
Federal authorities described Henry as a major in the U.S. Army with secret-level security clearance. During the time of the alleged conspiracy, Henry worked as a staff internist stationed at Fort Bragg, the home of the Army’s XVIII Airborne Corps, headquarters of the U.S. Army Special Operations Command and the Womack Army Medical Center. Henry has served in the Army since 2007, said Matt Leonard, a service spokesman. He has not served on any combat deployments, Leonard said.
Authorities described Gabrielian as an anesthesiologist at an unnamed “medical institution” in Baltimore. Online records for Johns Hopkins Medicine list Gabrielian as an instructor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine.
In a statement, Johns Hopkins officials said Gabrielian has been on staff since 2019 and was on leave as of Thursday.
“We were shocked to learn about this news this morning and intend to fully cooperate with investigators,” according to the statement from Kim Hoppe, vice president of communications for Johns Hopkins Medicine.
According to the federal indictment, Gabrielian reached out directly to the Russian Embassy by email and phone, offering her and her spouse’s assistance. She then heard from a person purporting to represent the embassy but who in fact was an undercover FBI agent, according to court records.
The two allegedly met at a Baltimore hotel on Aug. 17.
“During that meeting,” authorities wrote in court papers, “Gabrielian told the [undercover agent] she was motivated by patriotism toward Russia to provide any assistance she could to Russia, even if it meant being fired or going to jail.”
She suggested to the undercover agent that her spouse, Henry, could be useful in different and immediate ways, including regarding U.S. doctrine on establishing medical facilities in war zones and training provided to Ukrainian troops.
While it is unclear what insights Henry may have had, the potential disclosures could have better helped Russian commanders learn Western practices for how soldiers treat and move the wounded or consolidate casualties for more extensive care.
On that same day — Aug. 17 — Gabrielian returned to the hotel with Henry, according to court papers. The Army major said he had earlier been interested in serving directly for the Russian army after the conflict in Ukraine began, but said that door was shut because of his lack of combat experience.
“The way I am viewing what is going on in Ukraine now,” the major reportedly told the undercover agent, “is that the United States is using Ukrainians as a proxy for their own hatred toward Russia.”
Gabrielian added that given the risks involved, the Russians should use the couple’s services judiciously.
“If you have a useful long-term weapon, that can be used for years,” she said, according to authorities, adding, “it has to be something massively important, not just check if this person has polyps.”
The two wanted protection for their children if things went south, according to the federal records, with Gabrielian allegedly requesting that Russia have “a nice flight to Turkey” ready for the children.
A few days after the meeting, Gabrielian texted a coded message to the agent, implying Henry could get samples of “poetry” ready for delivery.
On Aug. 31, federal officials assert, the three met at a hotel in Gaithersburg, where the doctors provided medical information for at least seven different people.
This story has been updated with comment from Johns Hopkins.