Man accused of stealing US top secret material to remain jailed

Harold Martin's request for release was denied on Friday in federal court in Baltimore. US District Court Judge Richard Bennett said Martin's mental health contributed to his decision to hold him.

By: AP | Baltimore | Published:October 29, 2016 5:11 am

A former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing massive amounts of classified material will not be freed from jail while his case proceeds.

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Harold Martin’s request for release was denied on Friday in federal court in Baltimore. US District Court Judge Richard Bennett said Martin’s mental health contributed to his decision to hold him.

Martin, who faces theft charges, is accused of stealing top secret information from the government over two decades.

A magistrate judge denied the same request from Martin last week, agreeing with prosecutors that he is a flight risk, and that enemies of the United States would love to learn more about the top secret information found at his home.

In a filing on Thursday, prosecutors added that information Martin stole includes covert intelligence officers’ names.

In his decision, Bennett took issue with public defender James Wyda’s assertion that despite the massive theft of sensitive material, there’s no indication that any of it was distributed or found its way into the wrong hands.

“When I look at the nature and circumstances of the offense, they are egregious,” Bennett said. “The harm has already occurred in terms of the shock to the public and to the intelligence community, the loss of confidence of the public and intelligence officials.”

Martin’s defense has said he’s not like Edward Snowden, a former NSA contractor who three years ago gave journalists secret information about government surveillance programs. Martin, like Snowden, worked as a contractor for Booz Allen Hamilton. The company has said he’s since been fired.

Wyda argued that Martin stole the materials and kept them because of a hoarding condition but did not give the judge any professional analysis of Martin’s mental state. Prosecutor Harvey Eisenberg said Martin’s mental health “is a sentencing factor not a defense to the crime,” and added that prosecutors intend to seek additional charges against Martin under the Espionage Act.

Bennett also said the mental health issue, which includes a tendency to binge drink on a monthly basis, according to a pretrial services report, “overwhelms all other issues” in terms of Martin’s likelihood to pose a flight risk.