‘Hoarder’ pleads guilty in one of biggest breaches of U.S. secrets

The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade Md

The National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade Md

Martin and the government agreed that if the federal court in Baltimore accepted the plea agreement, he would be sentenced to nine years in prison on the charge of willful retention of national defense information, prosecutors said.

Embarrassingly, the U.S. intelligence state remained blissfully unaware of this massive leak until August 2016, when researchers at security software company Kaspersky Labs alerted the USA government about some odd messages they'd received and traced back to Martin.

"They say somewhere along the line that turned into some kind of freaky compulsion, some kind of hoarding", NPR's Carrie Johnson reported Thursday. "And Martin wound up taking home so much stuff, he couldn't even absorb it all".

Kaspersky tipped off the Federal Bureau of Investigation about the messages, which resulted in a major raid on Martin's home in which were found the stolen classified documents - apparently including some of the same hacking tools leaked by the Shadow Brokers.

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The files he stole, according to charging documents, included a number of NSA files, including reports on future plans, spy tools, and technical descriptions of an NSA communications programme.

Martin is said to be facing up to nine years in the cooler, and will be sentenced later this year.

Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a statement, "The American people entrusted Harold Martin with some of the nation's most sensitive classified secrets". "Martin knew that he was not authorized to remove National Defense Information and classified documents from secure locations, was not authorized to retain them at his residence, and was not authorized to retain them in his vehicle".

Sai Chavali, security strategist at ObserveIT Ltd. "Martin's approach takes advantage of outdated approaches to security to exfiltrate volumes of data, potentially more harmful than the Snowden incident in 2013".

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