Feds seek detention of man accused of stealing top secret documents

Harold Martin

Federal prosecutors are urging a judge to order the continued detention of a Maryland man accused of stealing a huge amount of highly classified material from the National Security Agency.

Harold T. Martin III was arrested in late August and charged with keeping top secret material in his home and car. In court documents filed Thursday, prosecutors say FBI agents have recovered roughly 50,000 gigabytes of material, which would be equivalent to 500 million pages of documents containing text and images.

Analysts are now going through it all to determine how much was classified.

If Martin is released on bail, the Justice Department says, he could get access to material he has hidden that FBI agents haven’t yet found. What’s more, they say, since his arrest has been made public, foreign agents are aware of the kinds of things Martin knows.

This makes him, prosecutors say, “a prime target, and his release would seriously endanger the safety of the country and potentially even the defendant himself.”

They also say he had a number of firearms and once told his wife that he would end his life “if he thought it was all over.”

The court filing says one of the documents he stole, during a 20-year period of taking materials home, contained handwritten notes describing the NSA’s computer systems, written “as if the notes were intended for an audience outside of the Intelligence Community.”

Another document described “specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States.”

Many of the classified documents were lying openly in his house or stored in the back seat and trunk of his car, which he parked in a driveway outside his house.

His lawyers, public defenders James Wyda and Deborah Boardman, say the crimes he’s charged with don’t permit a court to deny bail. The government “concocts fantastical scenarios” in which he might attempt to flee, but his wife and home are here.

“There is no evidence he intended to betray his country,” they say.

Investigators say they have concluded that some of the most sensitive material taken by Martin was also offered for sale on the dark web in August, but they have not determined whether it was provided by Martin, stolen from him or hacked from one of his computers, or obtained some other way.

A judge holds a hearing on Martin’s detention request Friday afternoon.

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