Ex-NSA Contractor Accused of Stealing Documents Ordered Detained

(Bloomberg) -- Harold Martin, the former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing millions of pages of data over a 20-year period, lost his bid to be released from federal custody.

Martin, 51, of Glen Burnie, Maryland, has been under arrest since Aug. 27. He is charged with stealing government property and the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials by a government worker. He was employed by Booz Allen Hamilton Holding Corp., under assignment to the NSA.

On Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite in Baltimore rejected Martin’s request that he set conditions for his release, citing his mental health status -- including alcohol abuse, threats of suicide and possession of weapons of which his wife was unaware.

“Defendant is highly intelligent and capable of flight,” Copperthite said in a one-page order following a court hearing.

Martin’s lawyers had argued their client wasn’t a flight risk or a danger to his community.

“Courts across the country, including in this District, have released defendants facing similar charges,” his lawyers, from the Maryland Federal Public Defender’s Office, said in a filing late Thursday.

‘Overwhelming’ Evidence

The government vehemently disagreed.

“After betraying the most important trust the United States can grant, the defendant presents a high risk of flight, a risk to the nation, and to the physical safety of others,” the U.S. said in an earlier filing, adding the evidence of his guilt is “overwhelming.”

Martin allegedly took and stored in his home and car, “a vast amount of irreplaceable classified information,” according to the government filing. “His thefts involved classified government materials that were dated from 1996 through 2016, spanning two decades’ worth of extremely sensitive information.” The government estimated the volume of just the electronic files at 50,000 gigabytes. A single gigabyte can hold 10,000 pages of information.

Martin faces as long as 11 years in prison if convicted. Held on only a criminal complaint, Martin hasn’t been indicted or arraigned, and hasn’t entered a formal plea. The government said he could face additional charges, including espionage.

Booz Allen Hamilton also employed Edward Snowden, who took and released thousands of classified files from the NSA in 2013 before fleeing the country.

The case is U.S. v. Martin, 16-mj-2254, U.S. District Court, District of Maryland (Baltimore).