Another NSA Contractor Charged with Stealing Classified Information

A 51-year-old Maryland man has been arrested for taking home "top secret" materials.

Published Oct. 5, 2016

 (Wikimedia Creative Commons)
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Creative Commons

A Maryland man has been arrested for stealing top secret information, according to the Department of Justice. Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, has been charged with "retention of classified materials by a government employee or contractor."

The New York Times was first to report that Martin was "secretly arrested" by the FBI and that he worked as a contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA). The FBI declined to comment on the case when we inquired, but the DOJ said items that were property of the U.S. government and contained classified information were found during a raid on Martin's home:

On Aug. 27, 2016, search warrants were executed at Martin’s residence in Glen Burnie, Maryland, including two storage sheds, as well as upon his vehicle and person. During execution of the warrants, investigators located hard-copy documents and digital information stored on various devices and removable digital media. A large percentage of the materials recovered from Martin’s residence and vehicle bore markings indicating that they were property of the U.S. government and contained highly classified information, including Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI). In addition, investigators located property of the U.S. government with an aggregate value in excess of $1,000, which Martin allegedly stole.

If convicted, Martin faces one year for removing classified materials and ten years for theft of government property, according to a statement released by the DOJ.

If the allegations against Martin are true, it would be the second time in three years that a contractor with the NSA had stolen classified government information. According to the Times, Martin worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, the same firm that employed Edward Snowden. In 2013 Snowden stole a large quantity of documents which he handed over to journalists, resulting in a scandal over the NSA's surveillance program. Snowden evaded capture by U.S. authorities and has been living in Russia.

Martin, on the other hand, is believed to have stolen "source code" which was developed to break into computers of American adversaries such as Russia, China, and North Korea:

An administration official said the case had been handled secretively not in order “to keep this guy from becoming another N.S.A. martyr,” but because it was a continuing law enforcement case and the hope was that Mr. Martin would cooperate. The official said investigators suspected that Mr. Martin might have taken the material before Mr. Snowden’s actions became public.

Prosecutors told the Times that they do not yet know what Martin's motives are, but he does not seem to be driven by a sense of martyrdom, as Snowden was. Martin's attorney, federal defender James Wyda, was not available by phone but gave the following statement to the Baltimore Sun:

There's no evidence that Hal Martin has betrayed his country. What we do know is that Hal Martin loves his family and his country. He served this nation honorably in the US Navy and he has devoted his entire career to protecting his country. We look forward to defending Hal Martin in court.

Bethania Palma is a journalist from the Los Angeles area who has been working in the news industry since 2006.

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