23 October 2016
The National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photo: Wikipedia
The National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Photo: Wikipedia

NSA contractor charged with stealing secret data

A National Security Agency contractor has been arrested and charged with stealing highly classified information.

Harold Thomas Martin, 51, who worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, was taken into custody in Maryland in August, Reuters reports, citing a US official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Booze Allen is the consulting firm that employed Edward Snowden when he revealed the collection of metadata by the National Security Agency in 2013.

Booz Allen said in a statement that when it “learned of the arrest of one of its employees by the FBI”, the company immediately fired the employee and offered full cooperation to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The same month Martin was arrested, some of the NSA’s most sophisticated hacking tools were dumped onto public websites by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers.

The company’s stock was down 3.7 percent to US$30.33 a share, following the report.

Word of the arrest followed a New York Times report that the FBI was investigating whether he stole and disclosed highly classified computer “source code” developed to hack into the networks of Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and other countries.

It was the latest disclosure of details of cyber spying by the US government since Snowden stole and released a vast trove of documents that exposed the reach of the NSA’s surveillance programs at home and abroad.

It comes at a time of growing concern over the cyberhacking of federal agencies and American political parties.

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