WASHINGTON — The F.B.I. secretly arrested a National Security Agency contractor in recent weeks and is investigating whether he stole and disclosed highly classified computer code developed to hack into the networks of foreign governments, according to several senior law enforcement and intelligence officials.
The arrest raises the embarrassing prospect that for the second time in three years, an insider has managed to steal highly damaging secret information from the N.S.A. In 2013, Edward J. Snowden, who was also a contractor for the agency, took a vast trove of documents that were later passed to journalists, exposing N.S.A. surveillance programs in the United States and abroad.
The contractor was identified as Harold T. Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie, Md., according to a criminal complaint filed in late August. He was charged with theft of government property, and unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents. During an F.B.I. raid of his house, agents seized documents and digital information stored on electronic devices. A large percentage of the materials found in his house and car contained highly classified information.
At the time, F.B.I. agents interviewed Mr. Martin, and he initially denied having taken the documents and digital files. The agency later said he had stated that he knew he was not authorized to have the materials. According to the complaint, he told the agency that “he knew what he had done was wrong and that he should not have done it because he knew it was unauthorized.”
In a brief statement issued on Wednesday, lawyers for Mr. Martin said: “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.”
The information believed stolen by Mr. Martin — who like Mr. Snowden worked for the consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton, which is responsible for building and operating many of the agency’s most sensitive cyberoperations — appears to be different in nature from Mr. Snowden’s theft.
Mr. Martin is suspected of taking the highly classified computer code developed by the agency to break into computer systems of adversaries like Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Two officials said that some of the information the contractor is suspected of taking was dated.
Full article: N.S.A. Contractor Arrested in Possible New Theft of Secrets (The NY Times)