A former National Security Agency contractor pleaded guilty Thursday to willful retention of national defense information and is now facing nine years in prison.
Harold T. Martin III pleaded guilty to one felony count, which authorities said involved a top secret NSA leadership briefing from March 2014 for which he had multiple copies. He pleaded guilty in federal court in Baltimore, MD.
He faced another 19 counts, but they will most likely end up dismissed at sentencing in July. As part of a plea agreement, Martin’s defense team accepted nine years in prison with three years of supervised release.
The 54-year-old private contractor and former U.S. Navy lieutenant who held various security clearances was arrested at his Maryland home by heavily armed FBI agents in August 2016 and he has been in custody ever since.
Martin initially pleaded not guilty to 20 counts of willfully retaining classified information and was due to go to trial in June, but prosecutors said this week he would be arraigned again, signaling a change in plea.
After his change of plea on the one count, Martin’s defenders said he had no intention to harm his country or the intelligence agencies he served.
“Today’s plea is an affirmation of what Mr. Martin and his defense team have maintained from the beginning of this case. His actions were the product of mental illness. Not treason,” his federal defenders’ said.
One of his lawyers has previously described Martin of Glen Burnie, Maryland, as a “compulsive hoarder” who took work documents home with him.
An indictment accused Martin of stealing top secret and classified documents between 1996 and 2016. Authorities said they found a trove of documents stowed in his car, his Maryland home and in a shed.