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Judge rejects release of former NSA contractor accused of stealing information

A former National Security Agency contractor charged with stealing government property and taking classified information is again asking to be released from prison at hearing in federal court Friday.

A federal judge on Friday denied a request to release a former National Security Agency contractor accused of stealing 50 terabytes of information over two decades, citing concerns about the man's mental health.

Harold T. Martin III, 51, of Glen Burnie was charged in August with stealing government property and taking classified information.

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At a hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett expressed concern over the lack of information about Martin's mental health, coupled with the long-term hoarding of documents and his collection of guns, including a loaded handgun found in his vehicle.

"This is bizarre behavior lasting over 20 years," Bennett said. "What we are dealing with, we don't know."

Martin's lawyers have described him as merely a hoarder who collected thousands of documents for 20 years out of a serious compulsion.

James Wyda, head of the federal public defender's office, said that aside from the hoarding, his client was an otherwise functioning adult who had no intention of distributing the information. Wyda noted that Martin owned a home, had held a job and contributed to a 401(k), but that he had long struggled with hoarding.

Wyda argued that his client has been cooperative with the government and has shown that he would follow any conditions if he were released.

Wyda also spoke of his client's strong ties to Maryland, where he has family and friends. His attorneys previously said he would submit to electronic home monitoring and an alcohol monitoring device and stay off the internet.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Eisenberg argued against Martin's release, saying he is considered a flight risk. Eisenberg said Martin had reasons to flee, including facing a lengthy sentence, and that he could be "a prize for foreign adversaries" looking to glean information.

Among the information Martin collected were names of covert intelligence agents, Eisenberg said, and release of that information could put those individuals at risk.

In issuing his ruling, Bennett cited the seriousness of the charges and agreed that Martin posed a flight risk because of his incentives to flee, such as an inability to find employment after the case.

Booz Allen Hamilton, the intelligence community contractor that had employed Martin, has fired him.

The judge also noted that last week, Magistrate Judge A. David Copperthite also found that Martin was a flight risk and had to remain in jail. Pretrial services also recommend that he be held.

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