NSA contractor arrested for alleged theft of top secret classified information

NSA contractor arrested for alleged theft of top secret classified information

Harold Thomas Martin, who worked at same consulting firm as Edward Snowden, may have stolen codes developed to hack foreign governments

The FBI has arrested a National Security Agency contractor on suspicion of the theft of top secret classified data and documents in an alleged security breach at the same intelligence agency whose spy secrets were exposed by Edward Snowden.

Disclosure of the documents stolen could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the US, claimed the justice department in a press release giving details of the criminal complaint against Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland.

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Hal or Harold Martin, the NSA contractor charged with removing classified data and documents. Photograph: LinkedIn

He was charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials by a government employee or contractor, and, it emerged on Wednesday, has been in detention since a court appearance on 29 August.

Details of the arrest were first reported by the New York Times, which suggested the breach involved the possible theft of highly classified computer codes developed to hack into the networks of foreign governments.

There is no evidence that Hal Martin intended to betray his country, said Martins attorneys Jim Wyda and Deborah Boardman in a statement, according to the Washington Post. What we do know is that Hal Martin loves his family and his country. He served honorably in the United States Navy as a lieutenant and he has devoted his entire career to protecting his country. We look forward to defending Hal Martin in court. They said the charges against Martin were mere allegations and they had not yet seen prosecutors evidence.

The justice department confirmed that Martin worked for the same company as Snowden when he exposed details of NSA mass surveillance methods three years ago.

Martin has been in custody since a court appearance in August. According to the New York Times, Martin is suspected of taking the source code developed by the agency to break into computer systems of adversaries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

Snowden, who remains in exile in Russia, facing charges under the Espionage Act, reacted to the details of the arrest, tweeting to his 2.4 million followers: This is huge. Did the FBI secretly arrest the person behind the reports NSA sat on huge flaws in US products?

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/oct/05/nsa-contractor-arrested-harold-thomas-martin-edward-snowden