An American who worked at the same intelligence contractor as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has been charged with the theft of classified documents.
Harold Martin, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, was arrested in late August after the FBI raided his house and storage shed, allegedly finding a number of top secret documents he had taken home without permission.
It is believed the files included source code for exploiting software vulnerabilities to hijack systems used by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.
"These documents were produced through sensitive government sources, methods, and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues," US prosecutors said on Wednesday.
"The disclosure of the documents would reveal those sensitive sources, methods, and capabilities."
US Department of Justice lawyers said in an unsealed court document that Martin had been granted top secret security clearance through his work as a private contractor with the government. Specifically, Martin was employed by military contractor Booz Allen Hamilton when he was cuffed by the Feds – the same outfit Snowden worked for when he took off to Hong Kong with a clutch of super top-secret NSA files in 2013.
We're told Martin took home with him printed and digital documents at least six of which were designated as top secret by Uncle Sam. The DoJ noted that Martin cooperated with g-men when they turned up at his home to search it for the missing material.
While the DoJ is not providing details on the documents themselves, the filing notes that the dossiers contain intelligence gathered in 2014 and "were produced through sensitive government sources, methods, and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues."
"The documents have been reviewed by an original classification authority of the government and, in each instance, the authority has determined that the documents are currently and properly classified at the TOP SECRET level, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security of the United States," the filing reads.
The filing does not disclose what Martin is said to have planned to do with the stolen documents – it is suggested he allegedly made an operational security blunder rather than seek to leak the contents of the blueprints. If convicted, he could face more than a decade behind bars.
The US government has hit Martin with charges of theft of government property, carrying a maximum of 10 years in prison, and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, which carries a maximum of one year in prison.
"Hal Martin loves his family and his country. There is no evidence that he intended to betray his country," lawyers for Martin said on Wednesday. ®