By Paul Gessler

BALTIMORE (WJZ) —  Former National Security Agency contractor Harold ‘Hal’  Martin was sentenced to nine years in prison after pleading guilty in March to willful retention of national defense information.

Martin admitted to stealing top-secret documents over a 20-year period and storing them at his Glen Burnie home- some, in an unlocked storage shed.

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Prosecutors said that Martin took over 50 terabytes of information, 300 times what Edward Snowden — another NSA contractor from Maryland — leaked to the world.

“He’s incredibly embarrassed,” Deb Shaw, Martin’s estranged wife, said. “He let down people he has such incredible high regard for. He feels the weight of the disappointment he looks up to.”

At past hearings, his attorneys said Martin was a compulsive hoarder, who couldn’t help but take the files. Friday, they painted him as a man who buried himself in work in an effort to be as good as he could at his job.

They, and his estranged wife, said agencies should have noticed he needed mental help.

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“I can’t tell you how many occasions Hal said, ‘If I go for help, I will lose my job.'” Shaw said. “‘They can’t know I’m counseling, I’ll get fired.'”

Martin will get credit for the three years he’s already served in federal custody.

“It’s my hope they’ll look at him like a human being and not just some person who did something terrible,” Shaw said.

In his sentencing, Martin nodded along as Judge Richard Bennett said he put people’s lives in danger, especially foreign intelligence sources.

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Government lawmakers said there is no evidence that Martin transmitted any information he stole.

Paul Gessler