Former NSA employee admits to taking classified documents


The National Security Agency headquarters building in Fort Meade Maryland

The US Department of Justice didn't say whether Pho was the staffer described in the Journal's report, and didn't mention the transfer of the top secret files to the Russian government in its press release Friday.

The court documents don't reveal Pho's motive or anything he may have done or meant to do with the documents.

Pho was nabbed because he used Kaspersky Lab anti-virus software, which is banned on federal government computers out of fear that it could enable Russian government spying - Kaspersky is a Russian firm.

Sixty-seven-year-old Nghia Hoang Pho admitted to a willful retention charge, which was mostly kept under wraps due to the sensitive nature of the crime, according to Reuters.

Pho received a variety of security clearances during his time with the NSA and had access to national defense information and other classified documents.

Pho, a 67-year-old United States citizen born in Vietnam, faces up to 10 years in prison.

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

The chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab Eugene Kaspersky says he's ready to have his company's source code exa
Former NSA employee admits to taking classified documents

Kaspersky Lab is suspected of being involved with Russian intelligence. The material is reportedly believed to have been stolen from his computer by Russian hackers exploiting his personal antivirus software. Victor is a former NSA contractor and Air Force veteran. Pho remains free while he awaits sentencing, which has been scheduled by US District Judge George L. Russell for April 6, 2018.

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

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 worldwide espionage efforts, both The Times and Reuters reported Friday.

The agency's loss of control over its sensitive hacking tools has caused great concern at its Fort Meade headquarters, at the Pentagon and in Congress.

Pho began work with the NSA in 2006, when he joined the agency's Tailored Access Operations (TAO) group as a developer. Harold T. Martin III, a Glen Burnie man and former NSA contractor, was indicted this year after being accused of stealing a "breathtaking" number of classified documents.

NSA has suffered a series of setbacks in recent years.

Another person named Reality Winner had been a contract worker with the NSA in Georgia before she was arrested in June and charged with providing a single NSA document to The Intercept, according to court documents.

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