A former National Security Agency contractor was arrested in the recent weeks by the FBI.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Wednesday, October 5, 2016, 12:51 PM
A National Security Agency contractor is suspected of stealing top secret codes capable of hacking into foreign government networks, a theft that could “cause exceptionally grave damage” to national security.
The FBI discreetly arrested Harold Thomas Martin III in connection with the crime in recent weeks, authorities revealed Wednesday. Martin, of Glen Burnie, Md., has been in custody since his first court appearance in August.
The arrested contractor worked for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, according to high-level sources cited by the New York Times. Booz Allen Hamilton is the same firm that employed exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden, who leaked classified NSA information in 2013.
Investigators executed search warrants of Martin’s Maryland property on Aug. 27, according to a statement from the Department of Justice. During their search of his home, two sheds, his vehicle and his person, investigators uncovered hard-copy documents and digital information stored on various devices. Much of the allegedly stolen property was clearly marked as U.S government property, according to the criminal complaint.
Investigators also turned up property valued at more than $ 1,000 at Martin’s residence and vehicle, according to the complaint.
Martin agreed to be interviewed and “at first denied” the theft allegations. He “later, when confronted with the specific documents, admitted he took documents and digital files from his work assignment to his residence and vehicle that he knew were classified,” according to the complaint.
John Carlin, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, said Wednesday that the arrest highlights security concerns among insiders.
The complaint charges Martin with unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, which carries a maximum one-year sentence in addition to theft of stolen property, an offense punishable by up to 10 years.
The information Martin is suspected of stealing includes highly classified “source code” developed to break into computer systems in Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, according to the Times.
“These documents were produced through sensitive government sources, methods and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues. The disclosure of the documents would reveal those sensitive sources, methods and capabilities,” the DOJ statement read.
Through interviews with someone “designated as an original classification authority,” investigators determined that the allegedly stolen information is classified as Top Secret, “meaning that unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the U.S.”
Speaking at a cybersecurity panel, the Justice Department’s top national security official, John Carlin, confirmed an arrest of “an individual who’s involved in taking classified information.” He said the arrest highlights the threats posed by insiders.
Howard Thomas Martin III worked at Booz Allen Hamilton, the same contracting firm that employed Edward Snowden before his 2013 leak.
The theft does not appear similar to when Snowden leaked tens of thousands of NSA documents in 2013, according to the Times. Snowden’s revealed that the government agency was collecting telephone records of millions of Americans.
Snowden fled to Hong Kong before revealing the documents. He is currently exiled in Russia and has petitioned for a presidential pardon, arguing that U.S. citizens benefitted from the disclosure of the secret government surveillance program.
This is a developing story. Check back in for updates.
With News Wire Services