The U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Maryland revealed on Oct. 5 that a National Security Agency contractor was arrested on Aug. 27 on charges of confidential information theft.
Charged is 51-year-old Harold Thomas Martin III on allegations that he removed and retained classified government documents. Law enforcement executed a search warrant on Martin's property on Aug. 27 and found documents that the government labeled top-secret. According to the Justice Department, six classified document were recovered that were originally produced by U.S. intelligence officials in 2014.
"These documents were produced through sensitive government sources, methods and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues," the Justice Department stated. "The disclosure of the documents would reveal those sensitive sources, methods and capabilities."
Martin was interviewed by investigators while the search warrants were being executed. According to the criminal complaint, Martin at first denied possession of the top-secret documents, but later recanted when he was directly confronted with specific documents found on his premises.
Martin "admitted he took documents and digital files from his work assignment to his residence and vehicle that he knew were classified," the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland criminal complaint against Martin states.
Additionally, the legal filing notes that Martin was aware that he did not have permission to retain the documents at his home. As well, Martin stated that he was aware that his actions were unauthorized.
The U.S. government is also charging Martin with theft of federal property, valued at more than $1,000, which was discovered during the search of his home and property. Martin first appeared in U.S. District Court in Baltimore on Aug. 29, and according the Justice Department, he is currently in government custody. No date for Martin's next hearing has been publicly disclosed at this time.
If Martin is convicted of the crimes he is alleged to have committed, the maximum sentence is 10 years in prison for theft of government property and one year in prison for the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials.
According to The New York Times, Martin worked for consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, a contractor to the National Security Agency. Edward Snowden, the NSA whistleblower who first leaked documents from the U.S. intelligence agency about mass surveillance in 2013, was also a Booz Allen Hamilton contractor. Snowden famously avoided arrest by fleeing to Hong Kong and then to Russia where he remains today.
Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.