- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 28, 2019

Harold “Hal” Martin III, a former National Security Agency contractor, pleaded guilty Thursday in connection with perhaps the largest security breach in the history of the U.S. intelligence community.

Mr. Martin, 54, pleaded guilty to one count of willful retention of national defense information during a rearraignment hearing held in Baltimore federal court, more than 2.5 years since he was arrested on related charges during a raid of his home in nearby Glen Burnie, Maryland.

Federal prosecutors have recommended a sentence of 9 years, Baltimore’s WJZ first reported from court.

Prosecutors said they recovered a staggering 50 terabytes of data during the August 2016 search of Mr. Martin’s residence and had previously charged him with 20 counts of unauthorized and willful retention of national defense information.

Mr. Martin initially pleaded not guilty to all counts and has been jailed since his arrest. The rearraignment hearing was scheduled Wednesday, and defense attorney Jim Wyda revealed Wednesday that his client planned to change course.

Lawyers for Mr. Martin previously described their client as a “compulsive hoarder” and said that the classified documents discovered around his home and in his vehicle, both digital and hard copies, had been collected during his decades contracting for federal agencies including the NSA, including what prosecutors called a “vast quantity” of classified documents.

Prosecutors previously said the materials discovered during the 2016 race involved detailed “sensitive government sources, methods and capabilities, which are critical to a wide variety of national security issues.”

Mr. Martin was employed at the time of his arrest by Booz Allen Hamilton, the same firm that had hired Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor who admittedly leaked a cache of material in 2014 concerning the agency’s vast surveillance operations. Both men have been charged under the U.S. Espionage Act of 1917.

Prior to Booz, Mr. Martin served in the Navy from 1988 through 1992, and in the Navy Reserve through 2000, his lawyers said in an earlier filing. He previously worked for at least six other private contractors and held security clearances up to “Top Secret//Sensitive Compartmented Information,” the filing said.

Mr. Martin previously faced a maximum sentence of 10 years for each of the 20 counts.

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