Harold T. Martin III, a former contractor with the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) has been declared a security risk for allegedly stealing classified information from the American government. A federal judge ruled on Friday that he will remain in custody while prosecutors continue with investigations that will build a criminal case against him.
A United States Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite described the suspect from Glen Burnie, Maryland, as a flight risk.
‘There’s every reason to believe that for over two decades, Martin have stolen top secret information which must be of great interest to America’s enemies,’ The Associated Press quotes Copperthite as saying.
However, Martin’s lawyers say there’s nothing the American government should worry about because their client is a “compulsive hoarder”. They claim there’s no evidence that the suspect has either shared the alleged confidential files with any foreign country or has plans to do so.
Image shows Harold Thomas Martin III with his wife Debbie.
Though the suspect reportedly disclosed information on the U.S. government’s secret surveillance programs to journalists three years ago, James Wyda [Martin’s federal defender] says, “he’s not Edward Snowden”.
Wyda claims that Martin is an “avid reader” who, as a U.S. Navy lieutenant, got carried away with learning from documented files that he had to take them home – against NSA rules and regulations. He says the suspect never intended to harm his country in any way.
The federal defender added that Martin also suffered mental imbalance at some point in his career.
“This was not spycraft behavior,” Wyda said. “This is not how a Russian spy or something like that would ever conduct himself.”
“This,” he added, “was the behavior of a compulsive hoarder.”
Image shows Debbie, the wife of Harold Thomas Martin III.
According to the report from AP, the U.S. Justice Department says they have reliable proof that Martin had intentions to harm the country.
Investigators confirm that FBI agents who searched Martin’s home and car in August found evidence that the accused had amassed a “spine tingling” quantity of U.S. government’s top secret files.
The suspect was discovered to have stolen confidential information between 1996 and 2016. Dozens of computers and digital storage devices were seized from Martin, and the FBI was able to recover about 50 terabytes of information. A substantial amount of the stolen information – enough to fill about 200 laptops – was highly confidential, prosecutors said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Myers said in a statement that “there is no reason to believe the defendant would have ever stopped but for the intervention of law enforcement”.
According to Myers, the stockpile of information stolen by Martin makes him a “high-value recruitment target from foreign intelligence services.”
Image shows house where Harold Thomas Martin III lived before his arrest.
Martin has reportedly been communicating online with some unknown persons, and prosecutors say he sometimes uses Russian, among other languages.
He’s facing a maximum period of 11 years in prison, if convicted for theft of government property, including an unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials.
Myers said in court Friday that the Justice Department has evidence to bring additional charges under the Espionage Act, which would expose Martin to far more severe penalties if convicted, AP added.
The NSA Contractor Served in the Navy from 1987 to 2000 and Reached the Rank of Lieutenant.
The US Navy has confirmed that Martin served 13 years with the Navy. Federal public defender James Wyda praised Martin for his period of service and said there’s no evidence he betrayed America, according to the Baltimore Sun.
In the 1990s, he worked aboard the combat support ship USS Seattle, which was serving in Operation Desert Storm in Iraq at the time. Afterwards, he was assigned to a post in Washington.
“He served this nation honorably in the US Navy and he has devoted his entire career to protecting his country,” said Wyda.