Ex-NSA Employee Admits Guilt in Taking Home Classified Files

This image is for use with this specific article only.** A former National Security Agency employee pleaded guilty to taking sensitive national defense information from his workplace and storing it at his residence

Former NSA Employee Pleads Guilty to Taking Classified Information

"Beginning in 2010 and continuing through March 2015, Pho removed and retained USA government documents and writings that contained national defense information, including information classified as Top Secret and Sensitive Compartmented Information", the US Department of Justice said in disclosing Friday's guilty plea.

Although Pho's offense carries a possible 10-year sentence, prosecutors in the case agreed not to seek more than eight years. He held various security clearances and had access to national defense and classified information. He's now scheduled to be sentenced on April 6, 2018.

Nghia Hoang Pho, who worked in the NSA's elite hacking unit, retained USA government documents containing top-secret national defense information between 2010 and March 2015, the Justice Department said.

The New York Times reports that Pho is the NSA employee that was targeted in a reported incident where Russian spies hacked NSA tools using Kaspersky Lab software.

The NSA has not commented on the report, but the Department of Homeland Security subsequently issued a directive banning all USA agencies from using Kaspersky products.

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Further, prosecutors stated that from 2010 until March 2015, Pho started removing classified writing and documents from his work computer.

Kaspersky Lab is suspected of being involved with Russian intelligence.

Kaspersky has acknowledged that its software lifted hacking tools from a home computer in 2014, but said it was not part of an intentional effort to steal information from the NSA.

Pho is the same former NSA employee implicated in previous reports involving the Russian government and Kaspersky Lab, a Moscow-based antivirus vendor accused of being a conduit for the Putin administration's global espionage efforts, both The Times and Reuters reported Friday.

"Any conversations regarding this case will be made in the courtroom during the sentencing", his attorney, Robert Bonsib, told Reuters.

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A federal grand jury indicted former NSA contractor Harold Martin in February on charges alleging he spent up to 20 years stealing up to 50 terabytes of highly sensitive government material from the U.S. intelligence community, which were hoarded at his home.

The National Security Agency headquarters building in Fort Meade, Maryland.

And Harold T. Martin III was arrested in 2016 after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents discovered some 50 terabytes of data and documents that Martin had taken from the NSA and other agencies over a period of 20 years.

Reality Leigh Winner, a Texas native who had been stationed in Maryland, was charged in June with sending a classified report to a news organization.

A former employee for the NSA who worked to infiltrate foreign computer networks has admitted to illegally taking classified documents from the agency. Martin was indicted in February on charges of violating the Espionage Act.

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