A federal grand jury indicted Harold Martin on Wednesday on 20 counts of willful retention of national defense information for hoarding thousands of classified documents in his home and car. While prosecutors say there is no indication he planned to share any of the documents, removing them from a secure location is still a federal crime. Photo by Trevor Paglen/CreativeTime Reports/Flickr.com
Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A former national security contractor was indicted Wednesday by a grand jury on charges he illegally collected hundreds of millions of pages of classified information at his home during the last two decades.
Hal Martin was charged in a federal grand jury indictment with 20 counts of willful retention of national defense information, and could be sentenced to 10 years in prison for each count he is convicted of.
Prosecutors say there is no evidence Martin transmitted or distributed any of the sensitive information, which cover everything from U.S. military capability and weakness to a user's-guide for intelligence gathering tools and lists of covert agents around the world, but taking the information without approval is against the law.
Martin's attorney's classify him as a "compulsive hoarder" while noting no evidence has been presented that he planned to share, sell or publish the stolen information, despite the charges against him coming under the Espionage Act.
"The FBI investigation and this indictment reveal a broken trust from a security clearance holder," Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore field office, said in a statement.
Over the course of 20 years, Martin gathered classified information from several agencies, including the NSA, CIA and U.S. Cyber Command, according to investigators.
During searches of Martin's home and car, prosecutors found more than 50 terabytes of digital documents and "six full banker's boxes worth of documents" of top secret and classified material.
Martin's attorneys say he "never intended to betray his country" and was following an obsessive desire for research, but prosecutors say the dangers of the information Martin took -- about three-quarters of the NSA's code-breaking software, thoughts on future and potential military operations and the names of secret agents -- and stored in less than secure ways posed a danger to the country.
"Willfully retaining highly classified national defense information in a vulnerable setting is a violation of the security policy and the law, which weakens our national security and cannot be tolerated," Johnson said.