By Ava-joye Burnett

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– A former government contractor from Maryland has been indicted for allegedly stealing highly classified documents.

A theft the government says went on for years.

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This case has sent ripple effects through the intelligence community, which was already battling an image problem after Edward Snowden.

Harold Martin III held a top security clearance for years. A privilege the government says the former NSA contractor abused When he allegedly stole a massive amount of highly classified documents.

“One of the most significant dangers we face is actually the trusted insider, somebody who is given access to our systems and our most sensitive secrets and abuses that trust and that’s what’s alleged in this case,” says Rod Rosenstein, U.S. Attorney for Maryland.

The indictment says Martin’s stock piling of sensitive documents went undetected for more than 20 years.

In the wrong hands, the government says the information could cause grave damage to national security. Even possibly endangering covert CIA operatives overseas.

Martin is accused of keeping stolen classified items inside his home in his Glen Burnie neighborhood, also in his vehicle.

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Martin’s wife has defended him in the past. “I love my husband very much and I stand behind him.”

Martin worked for Booz Allen Hamilton, the same contractor as Edward Snowden.

“You need to make clear that this sort of conduct particularly on the scale that’s alleged in this case is just intolerable,” says Rosenstein.

Martin’s attorney has said his client was just a hoarder, who meant to do his country no harm.

“Hal is no risk of flight, he loves America, and trusts in its justice system,” says James Wyda.

Martin has been behind bars for several months. He faces 20 counts with the possibility of 10 years a piece.

The U.S. attorney stresses Martin is innocent until proven guilty. He is expected to appear in court later this month.

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Ava-joye Burnett