Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Theft by Former NSA Worker Much Worse Than Thought, Prosecutors Allege

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Theft by Former NSA Worker Much Worse Than Thought, Prosecutors Allege

Article excerpt

A former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing hoards of top secret government information is set to face more serious charges than previously announced, with prosecutors hoping to prevent him from being released on bail.

According to the federal prosecutors' court filing on Thursday, Harold T. Martin III committed a theft that was "breathtaking in its longevity and scale," stealing enough material to fill up to 200 laptop computers, according to the Associated Press. The information includes "specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States," and handwritten notes with explanations that the government says is intended for an "audience outside of the Intelligence Community."

"Given the nature of his offenses and knowledge of national secrets, he presents tremendous value to any foreign power that may wish to shelter him within or outside of the United States," prosecutors said. Prosecutors argue that Mr. Martin should not be released on bail because he is "a risk to the nation and to the physical safety of others," The Washington Post reports.

Martin is under particular scrutiny as government officials are eager to prevent him from following in the footsteps of Edward Snowden, another ex-NSA contractor who leaked classified information about the agency's surveillance activities to journalists in 2013, and was granted asylum by Russia. While Martin's motives have not been revealed, prosecutors may also be especially alert following the recent case of a hacking group purportedly selling NSA hacking tools online and suspicions of foreign government hacking attempts to influence US political systems.

Defense attorneys dismissed the fears as "fantastical scenarios" since Martin doesn't have a valid passport and did not intend to give information to any other country. Martin is a former lieutenant for the US Navy, and since 1996 has had access to classified data. …

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