FBI arrests an NSA contractor suspected of stealing hacking tools

The Maryland man has been charged with stealing government materials, including top secret information

The FBI has arrested a U.S. government contractor for allegedly stealing classified documents, possibly including hacking tools.

Harold Thomas Martin III, 51, has been charged with stealing government materials, including top secret information, the U.S. Department of Justice said on Wednesday.

Martin, who held a top-secret national security clearance, allegedly took six classified documents produced in 2014.

"These documents were produced through sensitive government sources, methods, and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues," the DOJ said. 

Reportedly, Martin is a contractor for the NSA and was arrested on suspicion for disclosing classified computer code that can hack foreign governments, according to The New York Times.

Martin reportedly worked for Booz Allen Hamilton -- which also employed noted leaker Edward Snowden.

Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm that maintains NSA infrastructure, has declined to comment about Martin.

Martin was originally arrested on Aug. 27, more than a week after anonymous hackers, called the ShadowBrokers, publicly leaked hacking tools that may belong to the NSA. Sample files of those tools appear to be dated most recently to 2013.

It's unclear if Martin's arrest is in any way connected. But some security experts have been speculating an NSA insider may have been behind the ShadowBrokers leak. The sample files of those hacking tools actually work and may be worth a small fortune

Martin initially denied he had stolen any material when interviewed by investigators, but later admitted he had taken them and knew he had no authorization to do so, according to the DOJ's criminal complaint.

Martin's attorney, however, has reportedly said there's no evidence proving his client betrayed the U.S. 

"What we do know is that Hal Martin loves his family and his country he served," James Wyda, a federal public defender, told the Baltimore Sun.

Hard-copy documents and digital information related to the stolen materials were found in Martin's home in Maryland and his vehicle, the DOJ alleged. If convicted, Martin could face 10 years in prison for theft of government property and another year for unauthorized removal of classified materials.  

The NSA has not immediately responded for comment. 

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Michael Kan

IDG News Service
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