An NSA contractor has been arrested for stealing top secret intelligence information, according to the Department of Justice. The detention was made back in August.

The suspect, identified as Harold Thomas Martin III, aged 51, has been charged with theft of government property and unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials by a government employee or contractor. The charges occurred after searches of his property, especially his house, concluded he had “highly classified information” in several digital and hard-copy files.

Martin was arrested in August and was still in custody Wednesday. He faces up to 11 years total in prison, according to ABC News. Image Credit: International Business Times

The arrest of Harold Thomas Martin III

Martin was a contractor to the National Security Agency through Booz Allen Hamilton. As stated in the complaint, the suspect was in possession of top secret information. This is the highest level of government classification, and according to the Department of Justice it cannot be disclosed under fear it could “cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security.”

Included in the information was a hacking tool that the National Security Agency had developed to use against computers in other countries. Although the suspect motivation has not been revealed, FBI believes it was not “for a foreign country.”

Martin’s main company, Booz Allen, issue a statement in which they admitted one of its workers had been arrested, and claimed they had fired the suspect and offered “total cooperation” to the governmental agencies working on the case.

They also denied Booz Allen had anything to do with the incident, claiming that all the other employees “support critical client missions” with professionalism, excellence, and dedication.

“We have not yet seen any evidence. There is no evidence that Hal Martin betrayed his country. What we do know is that Mr. Martin loves his family and America, he served his nation honorably in the US Navy as a lieutenant and has devoted his entire career to making America safe. We look forward to defending Hal Martin in court,” stated Deborah Boardman and James Wyda, Martin’s attorneys.

The charges and the possibilities

Even though he was detained in August, Martin has not been formally indicted. The arrest was performed by FBI agents that wore helmets and camouflage uniforms, and had their guns drawn, as stated by a neighbor of Martin’s, Murray Bennett.

The suspect could spend up to one year in prison for the unauthorized removal and retention of classified materials, and as much as ten years in jail for theft of government property.

As stated by Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Carlin that investigations were being performed to verify whether this was a case of traditional espionage or if it had something to do with economic motivation.

So far, there is not a connection with Snowden

Edward Snowden became famous in 2013 after he disclosed some surveillance techniques of NSA, and subsequently auto-exiled himself. At the time of the incident, he also worked for Booz Allen. However, so far there is no proven connection between the two men.

On Wednesday Snowden wrote on his Twitter that he believed the suspect’s arrest to several leaks, including reports regarding US products. As stated by White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, the president is taking the matter “quite seriously” and also urged contractors to consider the importance of protecting “sensitive national security information.”

Sources: CNN