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NSA Contractor Arrested For Possibly Stealing Secrets

A National Security Agency (NSA) contractor was secretly arrested in August for allegedly stealing highly classified materials. He is being investigated for the leaking of a computer code used to hack into foreign networks.

On Oct. 5, the Department of Justice (DOJ) disclosed a criminal complaint against 51-year-old Harold T. Martin III of Maryland. The NSA contractor has been accused of theft of government property and unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents, according to The New York Times.

An anonymous official familiar with the case said that Martin is suspected of stealing top secret information in 2013, before former NSA contractor Edward Snowden went public with stolen data concerning the agency’s surveillance programs.

On Aug. 27, the FBI raided Martin’s house, finding top secret materials in two of his storage sheds and his car, according to USA TODAY.

The DOJ complaint noted that among the trove of top secret materials were six documents that, if leaked, would “cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States.”

Martin was an employee of Booz Allen Hamilton, the same consulting firm that Snowden worked for. Unlike Snowden, officials do not believe that Martin’s theft of government secrets was politically motivated.

“We’re struggling to figure him out,” the anonymous official said to The New York Times, noting that Martin does not fit the profile of a government leaker.

The official added that the arrest had been kept secret for over a month because law enforcement hoped that Martin would cooperate with the investigation.

Martin is being investigated in relation to the leaking of a top secret computer code leaked by a group known as Shadow Brokers in August. The code was dated back to 2013 and was used by the NSA to hack into the computers of foreign governments such as North Korea or China.

“Martin states that he knew what he had done was wrong and that he should not have done it because he knew it was unauthorized,” the DOJ complaint said.

Martin’s lawyers issued a statement asserting “There is no evidence that he intended to betray his country.”

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to discuss an ongoing investigation but told reporters “it’s a reminder to all of us with security clearances about the need to protect national security information.”

If convicted of removing the classified data without authorization, Martin could face a maximum sentence of one year in prison. If convicted of stealing government property, he could be sentenced to an additional 10 years, according to CNN.

Sources: CNNThe New York Times, USA TODAY / Photo credit: Thierry Ehrmann/Flickr

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