Pho is scheduled to be sentenced in April in US district court in Baltimore.
Beginning in 2010 and continuing through March 2015, Pho regularly removed and stored government documents that contained sensitive national defense information, including documents classified as Top Secret-the highest level of classified information that is defined by the government as information that "unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security". It has denied that it works with Russian intelligence.
The Trump administration ordered federal agencies in September to remove the Kaspersky software from its computers, and Congress has held several hearings on the company. The chief executive of Russia's Kaspersky Lab, Eugene Kaspersky, says he's ready to have his company's source code examined by US government officials to help dispel long-lingering suspicions about his company's ties to the Kremlin.
The court documents don't mention it, but Pho appears to be the NSA employee at the heart of the spying accusations swirling around the Moscow-based security firm Kaspersky Lab. The material is reportedly believed to have been stolen from his computer by Russian hackers exploiting his personal antivirus software.
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Mr. Pho is one of three N.S.A. workers to be charged in the past two years with mishandling classified information, a dismal record for an agency that is responsible for some of the government's most carefully guarded secrets.
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.
"Any conversations regarding this case will be made in the courtroom during the sentencing", his attorney, Robert Bonsib, told Reuters. Harold T. Martin III, a Glen Burnie man and former NSA contractor, was indicted this year after being accused of stealing a "breathtaking" number of classified documents.
Reality Winner, 25, a former Air Force linguist who worked as an NSA contractor at a facility in Augusta, Georgia, was charged in June with copying a classified USA report and mailing it to a news organization.
A former employee for the NSA who worked to infiltrate foreign computer networks has admitted to illegally taking classified documents from the agency. He has pleaded not guilty.