Ex-NSA Contractor Stole Docs From 4 Government Agencies, Prosecutors Say


Former National Security Agency contractor and alleged classified document hoarder Harold Martin pilfered Top Secret documents from four different U.S. government agencies in his 20-year thieving spree, according to prosecutors in his case.

In a court filing earlier this month, government attorneys said that Martin "abused the trust his country placed in him when he retained an astonishing quantity of highly classified paper and electronic documents in his home, shed and car."

"The documents span over twenty years of the nation's most important and closely held secrets. The stolen documents include Top Secret documents from four different government agencies, pertaining to a wide variety of subject matter, many far afield from anything remotely relevant to the tasks he had been trusted to perform," the filing says.

Martin, who was arrested in early February 2017, contracted with a number of government agencies beginning in 1993, according to the Department of Justice, and at times held security clearances at the highest levels.

The prosecution's filing came as government attorneys were battling a somewhat novel defense by Martin's legal team, which argued in court papers that the burden is on the government to prove that Martin knew that he had taken each of the specific national defense information documents named in the charges against him -- the specific illegal needles in a purported 500 million pages-worth documentary haystack.

Related: Going Big, Prosecutors Call Alleged NSA Hoarder's Defense Strategy 'Absurd'

"In regards to possession, the Court has proposed a hypothetical fact pattern: 'Assuming the Government will prove that Document A was included within a pile of documents and that Martin knew he possessed the pile, must he have known that the pile includes that specific document?' The answer, again, is yes: the government must prove that Mr. Martin knew that the specific charged document (e.g., Document A) was in the pile," the attorneys wrote. "To hold otherwise would eliminate the requirement that Mr. Martin knew he possessed the charged document."

The government, roiled by this argument, previously retorted that it was "absurd" logic.

"Requiring proof that the Defendant knew precisely what documents he possessed, or that he knew the precise reason that his retention of those documents was unlawful, would be inconsistent with the statute and case law. Moreover, such a requirement would cause the absurd result that a defendant could avoid culpability merely by committing a crime of such magnitude that he could claim ignorance of the details," the prosecution's brief says. "In this case, the Defendant appears to believe that, because he stole and retained such a vast quantity of classified information from secure facilities of the U.S. Intelligence Community, he could not know exactly what he stole, and therefore cannot be convicted of retaining any particular stolen classified documents."

In a court order earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Marvin Garbis sided with prosecutors, declaring that the government "is not required to prove that Defendant Martin knew that he possessed and retained the specified Charged Documents or that he knew that the specified Charged Documents contained NDI [national defense information]."

Martin faces up to 10 years for each of the 20 counts against him should he be found guilty.

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