Published: Sun, December 03, 2017
Global | By Shelia Dennis

Nghia Hoang Pho, former NSA employee, pleads guilty to retaining top-secret intelligence

Nghia Hoang Pho, former NSA employee, pleads guilty to retaining top-secret intelligence

He faces up to 10 years in prison.

But he had installed on his home computer antivirus software made by Kaspersky Lab, a top Russian software company, and Russian hackers are believed to have exploited the software to steal the documents, the officials said.

Further, prosecutors stated that from 2010 until March 2015, Pho started removing classified writing and documents from his work computer. Pho is scheduled to receive a sentence in April 2018.

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.

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Pho is at least the third NSA employee or contractor to be charged within the past two years on counts of improperly taking classified information from the agency, breaches that have prompted criticism of the secretive NSA.

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.

On Friday, the 67-year-old Nghia Hoang Pho pleaded guilty to removing the top-secret data and storing it in his Maryland home. The chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky, says he's ready to have his company's source code examined by USA government officials to help dispel long-lingering suspicions about his company's ties to the Kremlin.

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.

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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's lawyer, Robert Bonsib, can ask for a more lighter sentence, and his client remains free as he awaits sentencing. Pho was involved in "highly classified" projects and had access to government computers. Former NSA contractor Harold Martin was indicted in February on charges related to hoarding secrets at his home near agency headquarters in Ft.

The charges come on the heels of another government investigation in relation to a larger breach of NSA security, in which the NSA's hacking tools were released to the public past year by an unidentified group called the Shadow Brokers, Wired reported. He has pleaded not guilty. Meade, Maryland; NSA contractor Reality Winner was charged in June with leaking classified material to an online news outlet.

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