NSA con­trac­tor ac­cused of tak­ing clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - NEWS - By Tami Ab­dol­lah and Eric Tucker

WASH­ING­TON >> A con­trac­tor for the Na­tional Security Agency has been ar­rested on charges that he il­le­gally re­moved highly clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion and stored the ma­te­rial in his house and car, fed­eral prosecutors said Wed­nes­day.

Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Mary­land, was ar­rested by the FBI in Au­gust af­ter au­thor­i­ties say he ad­mit­ted to hav­ing taken govern­ment se­crets. A de­fense at­tor­ney said Martin did not in­tend to be­tray his coun­try.

Among the clas­si­fied doc­u­ments found with Martin, ac­cord­ing to the Jus­tice Depart­ment, were six that con­tain sen­si­tive in­tel­li­gence — mean­ing they were pro­duced through sen­si­tive govern­ment sources or meth­ods that are crit­i­cal to na­tional security — and date back to 2014. All the doc­u­ments were clearly marked as clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion, ac­cord­ing to a crim­i­nal com­plaint.

The ar­rest was made around the same time that U.S. officials ac­knowl­edged an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a cy­ber leak of pur­ported hack­ing tools used by the NSA. The tool kit con­sists of ma­li­cious soft­ware in­tended to tam­per with fire­walls, the elec­tronic de­fenses pro­tect­ing com­puter net­works.

The ar­rest could turn into an­other em­bar­rass­ment for the U.S. in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity. It would be the sec­ond case of an in­tel­li­gence worker steal­ing se­cret data from the NSA in re­cent years. The agency mon­i­tors and col­lects sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion and data, mostly from over­seas.

The New York Times first re­ported the ar­rest of an NSA con­trac­tor. The com­plaint does not iden­tify the agency Martin worked for as a con­trac­tor, but a U.S. of­fi­cial fa­mil­iar with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion con­firmed it was the NSA.

At Martin’s home, in­ves­ti­ga­tors found stolen prop­erty val­ued at “well in ex­cess of $1,000,” the com­plaint said. He vol­un­tar­ily agreed to an in­ter­view.

“Martin at first de­nied, and later when con­fronted with spe­cific doc­u­ments, ad­mit­ted he took doc­u­ments and dig­i­tal files from his work as­sign­ment to his res­i­dence and ve­hi­cle that he knew were clas­si­fied,” ac­cord­ing to the com­plaint, de­spite not hav­ing the au­tho­riza­tion to do so. “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.”

Martin has been in cus­tody since a court ap­pear­ance in Au­gust, when he was ar­rested.

“There is no ev­i­dence that Hal Martin in­tended to be­tray his coun­try,” his pub­lic de­fend­ers, James Wyda and Deb­o­rah Board­man, said in a state­ment. “What we do know is that Hal Martin loves his fam­ily and his coun­try. He served hon­or­ably as a lieu­tenant in the United States Navy, and he has de­voted his en­tire ca­reer to serv­ing his coun­try. We look for­ward to de­fend­ing Hal Martin in court.”

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