Ex-NSA worker accused of stealing to stay in custody

Associated Press


A former National Security Agency contractor accused in a massive theft of classified information will remain in custody as prosecutors continue building a case against him, a federal judge ruled Friday.

U.S. Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite agreed with prosecutors that Harold T. Martin III of Glen Burnie, Md., represented a flight risk if released and said there was no doubt that the top secret information he was accused of stealing over two decades is something “this country’s enemies would love to explore.”

Martin’s lawyers foreshadowed their upcoming defense, describing him as a “compulsive hoarder” and saying there was no evidence he ever shared the information with a foreign country or even intended to do so.

“He’s not Edward Snow-den,” said James Wyda, the federal defender representing Martin, referring to the former NSA contractor who three years ago disclosed to journalists secret information about government surveillance programs.

Wyda said Martin, a former U.S. Navy lieutenant, never intended to harm his country and was instead a “voracious” learner who got carried away over the years as he took home documents in a perhaps misguided effort to be as skilled at his job as he could be. He suggested Martin grappled with mental health issues.

“This was not spycraft behavior,” Wyda said.

The Justice Department presented a vastly different portrait.

Prosecutors have said FBI agents who searched Martin’s home and car in August found evidence of a “breathtaking” theft of top-secret government information.