FBI Arrests NSA Contractor For Allegedly Stealing And Disclosing Classified Hacking Computer Code

It's come to light that a former contractor for the National Security Agency (NSA) was arrested back in August by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The agency suspects the contractor might have stolen and disclosed classified computer code developed by the NSA to hack into networks of governments around the world. And no, his name is not Edward Snowden, though he comes from the same consulting firm (Booz Allen Hamilton).

The former contractor's name is Harold T. Martin III, a 51-year-old out of Glen Burnie, Maryland. He had already left the NSA and was working as a contractor for the Defense Department at the time of his arrest on August 27. According to The New York Times, some two dozen armed FBI agents wearing military-style uniforms raided his home before slapping a set of handcuffs on Martin III and escorting him out.

Image Source: Flickr (Cliff)

Court documents say the FBI found and sifted through thousands of pages of documents dating back to 2014 and "many terabytes" of digital information stored on dozens of computers and other electronic devices. Among the information obtained were classified documents that had been posted online. The trove of information also included computer code.

Investigators have not yet been able to determine if Martin III posted classified information online himself or handed it to someone else, or whether he just downloaded it. During an interview following the raid, Martin III initially denied stealing the information in the first place, but later admitted he was not authorized to be in possession of the materials they found at his home, adding that "he knew what he had done was wrong."

"We have not seen any evidence. But what we know is that Hal Martin loves his family and his country. There is no evidence that he intended to betray his country," Martin III's lawyers said in a statement.

FBI officials suspect Martin III of swiping highly classified computer code that the NSA developed to break into computer systems run by Russia, China, and other adversaries. However, they seem perplexed as to why he took the materials, as it doesn't appear to be a traditional case of espionage. "We're struggling to figure him out," an official speaking on the condition of anonymity told NYT.

It will be interesting to see how the government pursues this case against Martin III. Even though it's possible he took the materials with no intention of distributing them, it's a major security breach and another black eye for homeland security. And after the Snowden leak, the FBI might look to make an example out of Martin III.