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Former NSA Employee indicted for Sharing National Defense Secrets

By Aaron Kim, ITMG Insider Threat Analyst

Mark Robert Unkenholz, a former employee of the United States National Security Agency (NSA) has been indicted on 26 criminal charges related to emailing out national defense secrets from his personal account. According to the indictment, Unkenholz, who held a Top Secret/SCI clearance, emailed classified National Defense Information (NDI) on 13 occasions between February 14, 2008 and June 1, 2020.

National security information, classified as Top Secret, Secret or Confidential, can only be accessed by employees with the appropriate security clearance and can only be stored in an approved facility and container. Unkenholz had possessions and control over NDI, despite knowing that the information could be used to harm the United States or take advantage of any foreign nation, willfully transmitted that information to another person who was not entitled to receive it.

Unkenholz allegedly transmitted the secrets from his personal email address to the recipient’s private company email addresses. He is further accused of retaining the classified NDI within his personal email account.

The individual who received the data had previously held a Top Secret/SCI clearance from April 2016 until approximately June 2019 while employed at a company referred to in the indictment as Company 1.

However, the individual was working at a different company, referred to in the indictment as Company 2, from July 2019 until approximately January 2021. Consequently, the individual was not authorized to access, or receive, classified information during this time.

If convicted, Unkenholz faces a maximum sentence of 10 years’ imprisonment for each of the 13 counts of willful transmission of NDI and a maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment for each of the 13 counts of willful retention of NDI. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after considering the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, April 14th, 2022 at 12:18 pm. Both comments and pings are currently closed.