NSA contractor arrested for allegedly compromising highly classified computer codes

Last Updated Oct 5, 2016 7:07 PM EDT

A National Security Agency contractor has been arrested and charged with allegedly compromising highly classified computer codes, CBS News confirmed Wednesday.

The suspect has been identified as Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, the Justice Department revealed in a release Wednesday. CBS News Justice and Homeland Security correspondent Jeff Pegues reports he was a Booz Allen Hamilton employee.

Martin, who was arrested on Aug. 27, has been charged with “theft of government property” and “unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials by a government employee or contractor,” said the Justice Department after the complaint against him was unsealed Wednesday.

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Harold Martin III

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On the day of his arrest, officials used search warrants to look through his home, two storage sheds and car. Investigators found “hard-copy documents and digital information stored on various devices and removable digital media.”

“A large percentage of the materials recovered from Martin’s residence and vehicle bore markings indicating that they were property of the U.S. government and contained highly classified information, including Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information (SCI),” the Justice Department said Wednesday. “In addition, investigators located property of the U.S. government with an aggregate value in excess of $1,000, which Martin allegedly stole.”

The complaint said that six classified documents were found that were acquired from “sensitive intelligence and produced by a government agency in 2014.” The Justice Department said that the documents are “currently and properly classified as Top Secret,” which means “unauthorized disclosure reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the U.S.”

Pegues reports that even though Martin has been arrested and charged, law enforcement sources say investigators are still not confident that all of the U.S. secrets the suspect allegedly stole have been accounted for and recovered. In addition, law enforcement sources say they are trying to determine whether anyone else was involved.

According to the court papers, Martin admitted he took the documents. But his attorney said there is no evidence his client intended to betray his country and he has devoted his entire career to serving and protecting America, Pegues reports.

Martin could face up to a year in prison for the unauthorized removal and retention of the classified materials and 10 years in prison for stealing government property. He appeared in court on Aug. 29 and he remains detained, the Justice Department said.

This comes three years after Edward Snowden, a NSA contractor who also worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, leaked top secret U.S. government documents from the agency.

CBS News’ Justice and Homeland Security correspondent Jeff Pegues contributed to this report. 

  • Rebecca Shabad

    Rebecca Shabad is a video reporter for CBS News Digital.