‘Sensitive Government organisation’ worker accused of copying top secret data

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A former employee of a “sensitive Government organisation” is facing a trial at the Old Bailey for allegedly risking damaging national security by taking top secret data home.

Hasaan Arshad, 23, is charged with an offence under the Computer Misuse Act after an investigation led by the Metropolitan Police Counter Terrorism Command.

The defendant, from Rochdale, Greater Manchester, appeared at the Old Bailey by video link on Friday morning for a preliminary hearing.

Mr Justice Baker set a timetable for the case, telling the defendant: “So far as you are concerned, Mr Arshad, if a trial is required in your case it is going to take place on June 24 next year.

“You will be required to be at this court on the link on September 1, when you will be required to enter your plea to the indictment.

Arshad was arrested and his home was searched on September 22 last year.

He was charged under Section 3ZA of the Computer Misuse Act 1990, relating to “unauthorised acts causing, or creating risk of, serious damage”.

The charge states: “Between August 23 2022 and September 23 2022 (he) did an unauthorised act in relation to a computer and at the time of doing the act knew that it was unauthorised; and the act caused, or created a significant risk of, serious damage of a material kind, this being damage to the national security of a country; and he intended by doing the act to cause serious damage of a material kind or was reckless as to whether such damage was caused.”

Prosecutors say Arshad, before leaving work on August 24, took his work mobile phone into a top secret area and connected the device to a top secret work station.

He is accused of transferring sensitive data from a secure, top secret computer to the phone before taking it home.

Arshad allegedly then transferred the data from the phone to a hard drive connected to his personal home computer.

“Top secret” is the classification for the Government’s most sensitive information, where compromise might cause widespread loss of life or threaten the security or economic wellbeing of the country or friendly nations, according to Ministry of Justice security guidance.

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