Former NSA employee pleaded guilty to taking classified documents home


Pho is at least the third person with NSA ties charged within the last two years in connection with mishandling classified information.

The case's details match reports of an NSA worker who had government hacking tools copied from his home computer by Kaspersky Lab software.

Nghia Hoang Pho, 67, admitted Tuesday to unauthorized possession of classified documents relating to national defense, according to documents the Department of Justice released Friday.

An NSA staffer pleaded guilty to retaining national defense information on Friday.

A former National Security Agency employee pleaded guilty Friday to keeping top secret US defense material at his home - the latest in a series of breaches involving workers at the nation's largest spy shop.

Pho worked for the National Security Agency's (NSA) Tailored Access Operations (TAO) since April 2006.

"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.

Pho held some of the highest levels of security clearance at the agency, including sensitive compartmented information and "need to know" clearance, reserved for only a fraction of the agency's staff. The material is reportedly believed to have been stolen from his computer by Russian hackers exploiting his personal antivirus software. He risks a maximum prison sentence of up to ten years, but according to the Times, prosecutors agreed as part of his plea deal not to ask for more than eight years, if found guilty.

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 DOJ says that Pho started taking documents home starting somewhere in 2010 and up until March 2015, when he was caught.

The plea agreement indicates the material was seized at Pho's home in early 2015. In 2013, Edward Snowden, an NSA contractor who worked for Booz Allen, stole a cache of agency documents which he turned over to the news media.

Reality Winner, 25, a former Air Force linguist who worked as an NSA contractor at a facility in Augusta, Georgia, was charged in June with copying a classified USA report and mailing it to a news organization.

The Times reported that Pho is now free, while awaiting sentencing in April 2018. Former NSA contractor Harold Martin was indicted in February on charges related to hoarding secrets at his home near agency headquarters in Ft.