A former U.S. National Security Agency contractor has agreed to enter a guilty plea on charges of stealing classified information in what has been called a “breathtaking” theft of U.S. government secrets.
Court filings revealed that Harold Martin III is scheduled appear in federal court in Baltimore on Jan. 22 and plead guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information, Reuters reported.
According to prosecutors, Martin spent two decades amassing stolen classified information from U.S. intelligence agencies, retaining the data at his Glen Burnie, Maryland home. Following his August 2016 arrest, the Justice Department accused him of a “breathtaking” theft of classified data. Martin was indicted last February.
A raid of Martin’s home yielded dozens of laptops and digital devices, as well as enough documents to fill six bankers’ boxes.
Authorities seized the physical and digital evidence from Martin’s home, discovering at least 50 terabytes of data. Such a trove of information led authorities to contend that Martin might have perpetrated the largest theft of classified documents in U.S. history.
Martin currently faces up to 10 years in prison related to the single count against him. Because he has not yet struck a plea deal with prosecutors, he could still be tried on the remaining 19 counts in the indictment which involve the theft of documents from the NSA, U.S. Cyber Command, the CIA and the National Reconnaissance Office.
Since 1993, at least seven companies hired Martin as a private contractor. He also worked for multiple government agencies which granted him security clearances and access to highly-sensitive government information, according to the indictment.
Martin was employed in the hacking unit of the NSA, and stole material that included most, if not all, of the agency’s hacking tools. The New York Times reported that those same tools were later sold on the Internet by a group called Shadow Brokers, an organization long suspected of ties to Russian intelligence.
Although the breach was linked to Martin, a connection between him and Shadow Brokers could not be made by officials. The ways in which Martin might have used the stolen information remain undisclosed.
Ex-NSA contractor to plead guilty to ‘breathtaking’ heist of top-secret data https://t.co/TheRrtnmfR
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