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Tuesday, May 28, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Former NSA Contractor May Have Stolen Secrets

WASHINGTON (CN) - A former National Security Agency contractor faces federal criminal charges after he allegedly removed secret documents from the agency that could cause "exceptionally grave damage" to national security if released, the Justice Department announced Wednesday.

Fifty-one-year-old Harold Thomas Martin III faces charges of theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials by a government employee or contractor after investigators allegedly found classified documents in his car and in storage sheds on the property of his Glen Burnie, Maryland, house.

Martin was arrested on Aug. 27, shortly after investigators performed a warranted search on his property. They allegedly found "a large percentage" of hard-copy and digital documents marked as government property and as "top secret" or "sensitive compartmented information," according to the affidavit in support of the criminal complaint.

Six of the documents found in Martin's possession "appear to have been obtained from sensitive intelligence," the affidavit says.

"These six documents were produced through sensitive government sources, methods and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues," the affidavit reads. "The disclosure of the documents would reveal those sensitive sources, methods and capabilities."

Martin originally denied he took the documents when interviewed, but reversed course after his questioners confronted him with the documents they had found, according to the affidavit.

"Martin stated that he knew what he had done was wrong and that he should not have done it because he knew it was unauthorized," the affidavit says.

A person described in the affidavit as an "original classification authority" determined the documents are correctly marked, and that they could cause "exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States if released."

The affidavit was filed on Aug. 29 and unsealed Wednesday.

"These documents contained information originated, owned, or possessed by the United States Government concerning the national defense or foreign relations of the United States that has been determined pursuant to law or executive order to require protection against unauthorized disclosure in the interests of national security," the affidavit reads.

The government says the material recovered at Martin's property is worth "in well excess" of $1,000.

If convicted, Martin would face one year in prison for removing and keeping classified materials and 10 years for theft of government property, according to the Department of Justice.

The New York Times reported that the FBI is still investigating whether Martin stole and released a secret code used to hack foreign government networks.

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