Written byChris Bing
A former U.S. defense contractor who spent nearly two decades mishandling classified information while working inside the NSA and other American intelligence agencies has agreed to plead guilty to a felony charge of illegal retention of national security information, the government says in newly filed court documents.
Ex-NSA contractor Harold T. Martin could face up to 10 years in prison in addition to a $250,000 fine for the single felony charge. His guilty plea is just one part of an expansive case involving a 20-count indictment handed down in February 2017. The government did not specify whether the guilty plea is part of a plea deal.
Investigators found last year that Martin had removed a staggering amount of sensitive material — including documents, removable media and computer files about internal NSA policy and cyber-operations — from various classified environments. More than 50 terabytes of material, some marked “Top Secret,” were recovered as part of the criminal investigation.
Martin was originally arrested in August 2016 after police raided his home, finding troves of classified material stored throughout the property. Since then, he has been held without bond.
Court filings show that government prosecutors agreed to postpone sentencing for Martin until other counts are resolved. The U.S. District Court of Maryland is scheduled to hear Martin’s guilty plea on Jan. 22.
The single count to which Martin agreed to plead guilty relates to his mishandling of one specific set of NSA documents concerning a March 2014 report by NSA leadership about the development and planning of an internal unit.
Martin’s defense team says the 53-year-old is no traitor, but rather a “patriot” who made a mistake.
While Martin’s name was previously associated with the now infamous Shadow Brokers leaks, evidence of any sort of relationship remains nonexistent in the public sphere. The charges against Martin do not suggest he wittingly provide any material to an unnamed third party.
You can read the full guilty plea below: