Ex-NSA Contractor Accused Of Theft Must Remain In Federal Custody, Judge Orders

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The house of Harold Thomas Martin III, a federal government contractor who is accused of stealing classified information, in Glen Burnie, Md.

A federal judge has decided that Harold T. Martin III, a former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing classified government documents and property, should be detained pending trial.

The judge found that Martin "is a serious risk to the public" and presents a flight risk, as NPR's Carrie Johnson reports from the federal courthouse in Baltimore. Here's more from Carrie:

"Authorities have presented no evidence Martin shared the materials with a foreign power or anyone else. But the judge said the serious nature of the crime, Martin's problems with binge drinking and his cache of 10 firearms — many of which were a surprise to his wife — factored in the decision."

As Carrie reports, Martin's lawyers, James Wyda and Deborah Boardman, said they're disappointed by the judge's decision Friday. "We do not believe Hal Martin is a danger to the community or his country," they said in a written statement. "Hal Martin loves America and he trusts our justice system." They added that he is "engaged in obsessive hoarding as part of a mental health issue," Carrie says.

Prosecutors said in a court filing that Martin's actions amount to a "course of felonious conduct that is breathtaking in its longevity and scale." He's been in federal custody since late August and is charged with "theft of government property" and "unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents or materials by government employee or contractor."

And as Carrie has reported, prosecutors have also said that they intend to file Espionage Act charges against him.

Here's what investigators say they found during a search of Martin's property, according to a court filing:

"[I]nvestigators seized thousands of pages of documents and dozens of computers and other digital storage devices and media containing, conservatively, fifty terabytes of information. The seized hard copy documents that were seized from various locations during the search comprise six full bankers' boxes worth of documents. ... [M]any are marked 'Secret' and 'Top secret.' ...

"The Defendant stole from the government and hid at his residence and in his vehicle a vast amount of irreplaceable information. His thefts involved classified government materials that were dated from 1996 through 2016, spanning two decades' worth of extremely sensitive information."

Prosecutors had argued vociferously for Martin to remain in custody, saying he presented a clear flight risk and that there was "overwhelming" evidence of his guilt. "The Defendant's crimes reflect a willingness to routinely betray the trust of the nation, and there is no reason to believe that, if released, the Defendant will have any greater regard for any trust placed in him by the Court," they argued.

Lawyers Wyda and Boardman had said Martin did not constitute a serious flight risk. "The government concocts fantastical scenarios in which Mr. Martin — who, by the government's own admission, does not possess a valid passport — would attempt to flee the country," they said in a court filing. "[H]e has devoted his entire career to serving his country. There is no evidence that he intended to betray his country."

Martin admitted that he took classified materials from his workplace to his residence, according to a court filing. He told FBI investigators that "he knew what he had done was wrong and that he should not have done it because he knew it was unauthorized."

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