A National Security Agency (NSA) contractor was arrested and charged with stealing highly classified information, authorities said Wednesday, a data breach that could mark a damaging new leak about the US government’s surveillance efforts.
Harold Thomas Martin, 51 anni, employed by Booz Allen Hamilton, was taken into custody in Maryland in August. Booze Allen is the consulting firm that employed Edward Snowden when he revealed the collection of metadata by the NSA in Y 2013.
Booz Allen said in a statement that when the company “learned of the arrest of one of its employees by the FBI,” they immediately fired the employee and offered full cooperation to the FBI.
The same month Martin was arrested, some of the NSA’s most sophisticated hacking tools were dumped onto public websites by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers.
The US Justice Department charged Mr. Martin, who had Top Secret national security clearance, with theft of classified government material, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Wednesday.
Word of the arrest followed a NY-T’s report that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (BI) was investigating whether he stole and disclosed highly classified computer “source code” developed to hack into the networks of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other countries.
It was the latest disclosure of details of cyber spying by the US government since Mr. Snowden stole and released a huge trove of documents that exposed the reach of the NSA’s surveillance programs at home and abroad. It comes at a time of growing concern over the cyberhacking of federal agencies and American political parties.
According to the complaint, documents found in Mr. Martin’s possession contained sensitive intelligence.
Martin’s lawyer could not immediately be reached for comment.
The US Justice Department’s chief national security prosecutor, declined to comment on the specifics of the case.
Mr. Martin faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted on the most serious charges.
The leak of the NSA hacking tools coincided with US officials saying they had concluded that Russia or its proxies were responsible for hacking political party organizations in the run-up to the November 8 Presidential election. The Russian government has denied involvement.
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