NSA contractor accused of spying stole real names of US undercover officers

NSAClassified information stolen by a United States federal contractor, who was charged with espionage last month, includes the true identities of American intelligence officers posted in undercover assignments abroad, according to court documents. In August of this year, Harold Thomas Martin III, was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of stealing government property and illegally removing classified material. Martin, 51, served as a US Navy officer for over a decade, where he acquired a top secret clearance and specialized in cyber security. At the time of his arrest earlier this year, he was working for Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the largest federal contractors in the US. Some media reports said Martin was a member of the National Security Agency’s Office of Tailored Access Operations, described by observers as an elite “hacker army” tasked with conducting offensive cyber espionage against foreign targets.

Last week, after prosecutors alleged that the information Martin removed from the NSA was the equivalent of 500 million pages, a judge in the US state of Maryland ruled that the accused might flee if he is released on bail. Soon afterwards, Martin’s legal team filed a motion asking the judge to reconsider his decision to deny him bail. That prompted a new filing by the prosecution, which was delivered to the court on Thursday. The document alleges that the information found in Martin’s home and car includes “numerous names” of American intelligence officers who currently “operate under cover outside the US”. The court filing adds that Martin’s removal of the documents from secure government facilities constitutes “a security breach that risks exposure of American intelligence operations” and “could endanger the lives” of undercover intelligence officers and their agents abroad.

It is alleged that Martin told the FBI he never shared classified information with anyone, and that he removed it from his office at the NSA in order to deepen his expertise on his subject. His legal team argues that Martin suffers from a mental condition that compels him to be a hoarder. But prosecutors for the government argue in court documents that Martin appears to have communicated via the Internet with Russian speakers, and that he was learning Russian at the time of his arrest. The case is expected to be tried later this year.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 28 October 2016 | Permalink

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3 Responses to NSA contractor accused of spying stole real names of US undercover officers

  1. sfactor says:

    Kudos to CIO and FBI agents for terminating activities of alleged individual. Given current and future evidence submitted justice will surely prevail. Now much work needs to be done to mitigate damaged caused – which will be done overtime.

  2. Pete says:

    If the presence of ““numerous names” of American intelligence officers who currently “operate under cover outside the US”” reflects what is in the “500 million page” equivalents. Then this may be a much more serious leak than anything Snowden, Manning or Assange indulged in.

    Names of intelligence officers working undercover is almost the most sensitive (and dangerous) secrets that intelligence agencies possess. Those under “official” or “diplomatic” cover often risk assassination by non-state actors (eg. terrorists or drug barons) who don’t respect diplomatic status. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_cover

    Even more sensitive are names of those under “non-official” “illegal” (or “natural”) cover. They have no diplomatic immunity/protection. see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-official_cover .

  3. Bill Banks says:

    I would be curious as to when Name data was taken. All in one fell swoop? Few at a time over extended period? Any pattern to those exposed? Note that no actual losses are (yet) aledged.

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