NSA employee charged for allegedly passing classified information to unauthorized person

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A National Security Agency employee was charged with emailing classified information to someone who was not authorized to receive it, according to an unsealed federal indictment Thursday.

Mark Robert Unkenholz, 60, of Hanover, Maryland, was arrested Thursday and is due in Baltimore court for the first time at 3 p.m.

FILE – This June 6, 2013, file photo shows a sign outside the National Security Administration campus in Fort Meade, Maryland.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

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Unkenholz held a “top secret” security clearance, giving him access to the information, according to a 26-count indictment. He worked for an NSA office responsible for the agency’s engagement with private industry.

The indictment accuses Unkenholz of using his personal email address to send classified “secret” and “top secret” information to someone else’s private company email addresses on multiple occasions. between February 2018 and June 2020.

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The recipient held a “top secret” clearance from approximately April 2016 to June 2019, while employed at a company not named in the indictment. However, from around July 2019 to January 2021, the person worked for another company and was not authorized to access or receive classified information, according to the indictment.

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A grand jury on Tuesday indicted Unkenholz on 13 counts of willfully transmitting national defense information and 13 counts of willfully retaining national defense information. Each count carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Federal sentencing guidelines generally recommend sentences well below the maximum.

Online court records do not list a lawyer for Unkenholz.

The FBI is investigating.