The FBI arrested a former NSA contractor at his home in Glen Burnie, Maryland for stealing highly classified computer codes.
The encryptions were developed by the agency to break into the digital systems of US adversaries like China, Iran, Russia and North Korea.
The 51-year-old suspect, Harold T. Martin III, worked for the Defense Department at the time of his arrest. He is being charged with government property theft and the unauthorized retention or removal of classified information.
According to Murray Bennett, Martin's neighbor, two dozen military uniform-clad FBI agents barged into the former contractor's house. The armed law enforcement officers later escort the suspect out of his home in handcuffs.
It is the second time in three years that an individual associated with the consulting group Booz Allen Hamilton stole secret documents while employed with the NSA.
Edward Snowden has done it in 2013 when he took a cache of information that exposed the US government's surveillance programs.
Thousands of data saved in computers and other related devices have been recovered by the FBI at Martin's home and in his car. Some of the documents, which included the codes, have been posted online.
A month after the investigation, law enforcers failed to determine if the former NSA contractor has distributed the data to a third party or simply downloaded the files.
Harold Martin III has initially denied getting the classified information. However, he apparently breaks down when he told the FBI that his actions were both wrong and unauthorized.
Legal counsel for the suspect has said in a statement that there is no evidence that Martin intended to betray his country.
Should the accusations against the Navy veteran fail to find its footing, it will deal the Obama administration with another blow in securing secret files. The government has reduced the number of employees with access to classified information to 17 percent during the last two years.
During the course of the investigation, it has been pointed out that Martin does not possess an insider's profile. One administration official shared that the suspect is not politically motivated.
The FBI is eyeing another angle that can pin down the former contractor. Authorities believed that the Navy veteran's intention to collect data is itself a serious security risk.
As Harold Martin's case moves forward, questions have emerged on how law enforcers managed to identify him and when he began acquiring data.
The former Bozz Allen Hamilton employee faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted with the most severe charges.