Patrick Semansky / AP
A former National Security Agency contractor pleading guilty to stealing huge quantities of classified information over the past two decades has been sentenced to nine years in prison.
Harold Martin III, 54, apologized before US District Judge Richard Bennett pronounced the ruling on Friday.
"My methods were wrong, illegal, and highly questionable," Martin told the Court in Baltimore, according to the Associated Press.
Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to "deliberately keeping information about the country's defense," a crime punishable by a fine of zero up to a maximum of 10 years. His consent provided for a prison sentence of nine years.
Martin, who was working for Booz Allen Hamilton at the time, began collecting classified information in his vehicle and at his home in Glen Burnie, Md., In the late 1990s. The Navy veteran conducted a top secret security check. He was arrested in August 2016 and the documents were found when the FBI searched his home.
Prosecutors have described his behavior as "breathtaking in his longevity and greatness".
Shortly after his arrest, Martin's defense lawyers said he had taken documents home to study for his work. But as Carrie Johnson of NPR reported, "they say somewhere on the line, which led to some kind of bizarre compulsion, a kind of hoarding." "His lawyers also said hoarding was" part of a mental health issue, "Johnson reported.
Over the years, he collected a tremendous amount of material, according to court records," thousands of pages of documents and dozens were confiscated. " of computers and other digital storage media that conservatively contained fifty terabytes of information. "However, this amount was later estimated to be far lower.According to the prosecution, many of the documents were classified as" secret "or" top secret. "
" The defendant decreed a staggering amount of flagged classified information that he was not allowed to use, "the court records of 2016 said." Many of the marked documents were left open in his home office or were stored in the backseat and trunk of his vehicle.
Martin was not accused of disclosing the information to a foreign government.
The sensitivity of the documents is clear.Martin's plea contains a list of documents describing plans and objectives of US security operations.