- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2016

A former NSA contractor charged with stealing a vast amount of classified documents could be compromised by foreign adversaries or commit suicide if released from federal custody, government prosecutors intend to argue Friday.

Court documents filed by government prosecutors in advance of a detention hearing Friday afternoon in Baltimore for Harold Martin III allege the Navy veteran and former Booz Allen Hamilton employee will evade justice if released before being brought to trial.

Mr. Martin, 56, has been locked up since Aug. 27 when authorities found a cache of sensitive government material while executing search warrants at his Glen Burnie, Maryland, home. His arrest was kept secret for over a month before charges of theft of government property and unauthorized removal or retention of classified documents were announced, and prosecutors wrote in a court filing Thursday that they’re pursuing an espionage case as well.

As the government prepares spying charges against Mr. Martin, U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein wrote in Thursday’s filing that releasing the defendant prior to trial would pose dangers to himself, his community and the national security of the United States.

“As a result of the extensive publicity this case has received, it is readily apparent to every foreign counterintelligence professional and nongovernmental actor that the Defendant has access to highly classified information, whether in his head, in still-hidden physical locations or stored in cyberspace — and he has demonstrated absolutely no interest in protecting it,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote. “This makes the Defendant a prime target, and his release would seriously endanger the safety of the country and potentially even the Defendant himself.”

The technical knowledge Mr. Martin amassed during his decades in the intelligence community and as a result of his own training and research have provided him with the know-how to covertly leak government secrets if released prior to trial, prosecutors argued. 

Additionally, the filing says Mr. Martin’s wife told investigators that she believed her husband would take his own life “if he thought if it was all over.”

“The Defendant has lost his security clearance and his career, and is facing the loss of his freedom,” the filing states. “He appears to have nothing left to lose, and every reason to attempt to evade the criminal consequences of his actions.”

In a filing of their own Thursday, Mr. Martin’s lawyers wrote the government has no legal basis to keep their client behind bars pending trial.

“The government focuses almost exclusively on the potential danger that might result if Mr. Martin is released,” his lawyers wrote, according to the Baltimore Sun. “We disagree with this as a factual matter.”

According to prosecutors, investigators seized thousands of pages of documents and dozens of computers when they raided Mr. Martin’s residence this summer, including material recovered from his car that had allegedly been clearly marked as classified. In an earlier filing, the government said at least six of the documents “were produced through sensitive government sources, methods, and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues.”

On Thursday, Mr. Rosenstein wrote that this “wholesale theft of classified government documents and property … is breathtaking in its longevity and scale.”

“The case against the Defendant thus far is overwhelming, and the investigation is ongoing,” he added. “The government anticipates that the charges will include violations of the Espionage Act, an offense that carries significantly higher statutory penalties and advisory guideline ranges than the charges listed in the complaint.”

Indeed, a conviction under the Espionage Act result in a death penalty being handed down if Mr. Martin is found guilty of spying.

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