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New charges for ex-NSA contractor for allegedly taking elite hacking tools

Hal Martin allegedly was found with 50TB of data when arrested in August 2016.

A federal grand jury has indicted a former National Security Agency contractor on 20 counts of willful retention of national defense information.

According to prosecutors, Harold “Hal” Martin took a slew of highly classified documents out of secure facilities and kept them at his home and in his car. Earlier this week, the Washington Post reported that among those materials, Martin is alleged to have taken 75 percent of the hacking tools that were part of the Tailored Access Operations, an elite hacking unit within NSA.

The indictment outlines 20 specific documents that he is accused of having taken, including “a March 2014 NSA leadership briefing outlining the development and future plans for a specific NSA organization.”

“The indictment alleges that for as long as two decades, Harold Martin flagrantly abused the trust placed in him by the government by stealing documents containing highly classified information,” United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said in a statement on Wednesday.

Federal investigators have not yet accused Martin of distributing the materials he allegedly took.

As Ars reported last year, when Martin was arrested in August 2016, investigators seized 50TB worth of data and many other printed and classified documents from Martin’s home in suburban Maryland. If all of this data was indeed classified, it would be the largest such heist from the NSA, far larger than what former contractor Edward Snowden took.

Martin is scheduled to appear before a federal judge in Baltimore on February 14 at 11:00am ET. Prosecutors say that if convicted, the defendant could face up to 10 years for each of the counts.

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