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US Authorities Find 50TB Trove of Stolen Government Files

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The NSA contractor accused of stealing a gargantuan amount of sensitive and classified data from the USA government was studying Russian before he was arrested and would be a "prime target" for foreign spies should he be released on bail, prosecutors argued ahead of a court hearing for Harold Martin, III, today.

A federal judge has decided that Harold T. Martin, III, a former NSA contractor accused of stealing classified government documents and property, should be detained pending trial.

The Justice Department said it anticipates filing more charges against Martin, including under the Espionage Act, which often carry prison terms of 10 years per charge.

Among the data he took, prosecutors said, was a top-secret document describing "specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States".

They said he has been communicating online in foreign languages, including Russian, and because of his knowledge of USA secrets "presents tremendous value" to any foreign power.

Martin, a Navy veteran, was arrested in late August after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents discovered a treasure trove of government documents and data, in stacks of paper and on removable data storage devices, strewn around his house, his auto and an outdoor shed. It was initially believed that an NSA operate inadvertently left the hacking tools on a computer, but Martin's arrest prompted a wave of speculation that the leak may have been purposeful. The government said he could face additional charges, including espionage. Martin has so far admitted to storing classified materials, but has not replied to accusations of intending to pass them on. They said Martin didn't even have a valid passport.

"The defendant's decades of criminal behavior were in flagrant violation of his many promises and oaths, as well as the law, " according to court documents filed in advance of a detention hearing scheduled for Friday. In his LinkedIn resume, Martin says he worked as a "cyber engineering advisor" supporting "various cyber related initiatives" in the Defense Department and intelligence community.

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Friends and online writings portray Martin, a Navy veteran who served in Desert Storm, as a quirky, workaholic patriot with a tendency to hoard books and documents.

Another document found in his auto contained handwritten notes describing NSA's classified computer systems and detailed descriptions of classified technical operations, the prosecutors said. Prosecutors said he "has had online communication in Russian". Martin's attorneys declined to comment on the latest development.

The prosecutors quoted a cryptic 2007 letter that Martin apparently wrote but never sent in which he shows contempt for colleagues in the covert world.

Martin poses a flight risk, Magistrate Judge A David Copperthite said, and so can not be released to his family. This suggests that it was connected to "specific operational plans against a known enemy of the United States and its allies".

FBI investigators haven't concluded what Martin's motivation was for stealing the documents.

According to a federal court filing this week, Martin spent 20 years working for multiple government agencies, including the NSA. Martin's defense attorneys claim that their client took the information from the office exclusively to work on it further and improve his job-related skills, maintaining that there is no clear evidence he meant to betray his country and leak the data.

Investigators are still going over that material, and it remains unclear what portion of Martin's digital storage devices contain government secrets. The notes also included descriptions of basic concepts associated with classified operations, as though intended for a general public audience, they said.

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