Former NSA Contractor Agrees to Plead Guilty to Stealing Secret Data

Harold Martin is a former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who has agreed to plead guilty to stealing classified information in what may be the largest heist of U.S. government secrets in history. Court filings show that Martin is scheduled to plead guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information at a federal court in Baltimore on January 22, Reuters reports.

According to prosecutors, the former contractor spent up to 20 years stealing highly sensitive government material from the American intelligence community that was related to national defense. He also stored secrets at his home in Maryland, where the authorities seized 50 terabytes of data. It is not known what Martin did with the stolen data.

The former contractor now faces up to ten years in prison on the single count. He has not struck a plea deal with prosecutors and could be tried on the other 19 counts in the indictment.

In the last few years, the National Security Agency was hit by several damaging data breaches. Last month Nghia Hoang Pho, a former NSA employee, pleaded guilty to illegally taking classified information.

When Martin was taken into custody in August 2016, he worked for Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp, where Edward Snowden, who leaked secret files to news organizations several years ago and exposed domestic and international surveillance operations the NSA carried out, also used to work.

Martin has worked as a contractor for at least seven companies. He has also worked for several government agencies. He had various security clearances because of his working positions which included work on highly classified projects involving government computer systems. Those clearances provided him with access to secret information.

According to the indictment, Martin stole documents from U.S. Cyber Command, the CIA and the National Reconnaissance Office.

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