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Two decades later, ex-NSA contractor pleads guilty to stealing classified data

A former US government contractor is facing nine years in prison after pleading guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information. This is more than 20 years after the crime, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Harold Thomas Martin, III, 54, was employed by at least seven different private companies and assigned as a contractor to work at a number of government agencies from December 1993 through Aug. 27, 2016, according to his plea agreement.

He held security clearances that meant he could access top secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI) that should under no circumstances be put at risk of disclosure. Yet that’s exactly what Martin did when he took the data home and even held it in his car, the DOJ said in a press release.

As per Martin’s plea agreement, he retained stolen national defense-related documents both digitally and as hard copies, some even bearing standard classification markings.

“Martin admitted that beginning in the late 1990s and continuing through Aug. 31, 2016, he stole and retained U.S. government property, from secure locations and computer systems, including documents that bore markings indicating that they were the property of the United States and contained highly classified information of the United States, including TOP SECRET/SCI information,” the DOJ says.

“Martin knew that the hard copy and digital documents stolen from his workplace contained classified information that related to the national defense and that he was never authorized to retain these documents at his residence or in his vehicle,” the DOJ continues. “Martin admitted that he also knew that the unauthorized removal of these materials risked their disclosure, which would be damaging to the national security of the United States and highly useful to its enemies.”

According to reports, Martin was initially charged with 20 counts of violating the Espionage Act, but only pleaded guilty to one. Federal prosecutors accepted his guilty plea and dropped the remaining 19 charges, but if the court accepts his plea agreement, Martin still faces nine long years behind bars. Sentencing is scheduled for July 17, 2019.

About the author

Filip TRUTA

Filip is an experienced writer with over a decade of practice in the technology realm. He has covered a wide range of topics in such industries as gaming, software, hardware and cyber-security, and has worked in various B2B and B2C marketing roles. Filip currently serves as Information Security Analyst with Bitdefender.

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