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Ex-NSA contractor who stole classified information put U.S. intelligence officers at risk

NSA contractor intelligence theft

The former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor who’s been charged with stealing and keeping highly classified material over the course of two decades put U.S. intelligence officers and operations at risk by possessing their names, according to a court filing Thursday.

In the filing with a Maryland federal court, the Justice Department confirmed for the first time specific details about the type of information Harold Martin took from the NSA.

Ex-NSA contractor may have compromised foreign intelligence officers

“As an example, information stolen by the Defendant includes numerous names of intelligence officers of the United States,” the filing said. “These officers operate under cover outside the United States, and putting the secrecy of their identities at risk by removing information about those identities from appropriate, secure storage not only endangers the lives and safety of those officers and the individuals with whom they work, but also risks exposure of American intelligence operations.”

The Justice Department added that if numerous intelligence sources and methods for highly sensitive intelligence operations fell into the wrong hands, they “could be rendered nearly useless.”

Prosecutors estimate that a substantial portion of the 50 terabytes of digital information found in Martin’s possession contains “highly classified information.” Authorities also found thousands of hard-copy documents containing “highly classified information” in his possession.

In the filing Thursday, the Justice Department did not say whether the names of intelligence officers were shared with U.S. adversaries and it’s still unclear whether Martin was selling this information or if he was simply hoarding the information in his home.

Regardless of his intentions, the Justice Department plans to charge Martin under the Espionage Act. He has already been charged with theft of government property and removal and retention of classified materials for stealing half a billion pages of U.S. secrets and records between 1996 and 2016.

Martin, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, made his first public court appearance in a Baltimore federal courtroom on Friday and the judge ruled that he must remain detained because he poses a “serious risk to the public.”

In court documents filed last week, government lawyers said that Martin committed theft that was “breathtaking in its longevity and scale.”

The Justice Department revealed only earlier this month that Martin had been arrested in late August when officials used search warrants to look through his home, two storage sheds and car. Martin was a Booz Allen Hamilton Employee. 

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’ Paula Reid contributed to this report.

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