Top Secret theft 'breathtaking' in size, scope

Associated Press


A former National Security Agency contractor’s theft of top secret government information was “breathtaking in its longevity and scale,” federal prosecutors said in a court filing Thursday aimed at keeping the man locked up as the case moves forward. They said he took enough classified material to fill roughly 200 laptop computers.

The Justice Department also said it anticipated bringing additional charges against Harold T. Martin III, including charges under the Espionage Act, which would expose him to far harsher penalties if convicted. It described the evidence against him as “overwhelming” and said Martin admitted to investigators that he was illicitly storing classified materials.

The papers offered new details about the enormous volume of information prosecutors believe Martin stole and revealed the Justice Department’s concern that Martin is or could be in contact with a foreign government. Prosecutors said Martin has had online communication in Russian and – raising the specter of a situation akin to Edward Snowden – said that if Martin were freed he “could seek refuge with a foreign government willing to shield him from facing justice.”

“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.

A hearing was scheduled for this afternoon in Baltimore. Martin’s attorneys said he never intended to betray his country and does not pose a danger or flight risk. They said Martin, a former lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, does not have a valid passport and dismissed as “fantastical scenarios” concerns that he might flee.

Martin was arrested at his Maryland home in August around the same time as federal officials acknowledged an investigation into a cyberleak of purported hacking tools used by the NSA.