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World & Nation

Former government contractor charged with stealing top-secret documents 

Harold Thomas Martin III
The Glen Burnie, Md., house of Harold Thomas Martin III, a government contractor accused of stealing highly classified information.
(Jose Luis Magana / Associated Press)

A former government contractor accused in a massive theft of top secret information has been indicted on charges of mishandling classified materials.

A federal grand jury in Baltimore indicted Harold T. Martin III on Wednesday on 20 counts of willful retention of national defense information. He could face decades in prison if convicted of the charges.

The indictment accuses Martin, who worked as a private contractor for the National Security Agency and other government agencies, of stealing top secret and classified documents between 1996 and 2016 and stowing them in his home and car.

But while prosecutors had previously accused Martin of a “breathtaking” theft, and had raised the potential that he could be providing the information to a foreign government, the indictment contains no allegations that he spied for or colluded with any other country or even that he gave away the documents.

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Martin, 52, of Glen Burnie, Md., is a former U.S. Navy lieutenant. He has been in custody since the FBI arrested him in August.

“The FBI investigation and this indictment reveal a broken trust from a security clearance holder,” Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Baltimore field office, said in a statement.

Martin’s attorney, federal defender James Wyda, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Wednesday. He has previously described Martin as a “compulsive hoarder” who never intended to harm his country and who took work documents home with him as he strove to be as committed to his job as possible.

The stolen documents included sensitive NSA briefings and reports, including a 2009 draft of a signals intelligence directive that outlined methods and procedures for protecting the U.S. and a 2014 report containing information on foreign cyber intrusion techniques.

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Martin is also accused of stealing a CIA document detailing foreign intelligence collection sources and methods; a National Reconnaissance Office document that had information about the launch of an intelligence collection satellite; and an NSA document with information on planning and operations concerning suspected terrorists.

If convicted, Martin faces up to 10 years in prison for each count.

He is due in court Feb. 14 for an initial appearance.


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