NSA Contractor Guilty in Data Leak

Monday, January 8, 2018 @ 04:01 PM gHale

An ex-contractor for the U.S. National Security Agency’s elite hacking group pleaded guilty to removing classified documents.

Harold Martin, who worked for an NSA unit focused on hacking into target computer systems around the world, will plead guilty to one of 20 counts against him with the aim of concluding a 15-month-old case couched in deep secrecy, according to court documents filed Wednesday. 

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The indictment filed last February 8, accused Martin of hoarding 50 terabytes of NSA data and documents in his home and car over a 20-year period. The material included sensitive digital tools for hacking foreign governments’ computers, officials said. 

His arrest in late 2016 followed the NSA’s discovery that a batch of its hacking tools had fallen into the hands of a still-mysterious group called the Shadow Brokers, which offered them for sale online and also released some for free.

Martin has not been accused of responsibility for any NSA leaks.

In December, Nghia Hoang Pho, 67, a 10-year veteran of the NSA’s Tailored Access Operations hacking unit, ended up charged with and agreed to plead guilty to one count of removing and retaining top-secret documents from the agency.

Vietnam-born Pho also had taken home highly classified NSA materials and programs.

Martin will officially submit his plea January 22, according to court filings. He faces up to 10 years in jail and a maximum fine of $250,000.

Sentencing won’t take place until the 19 other charges are resolved.

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