A former CIA agent was sentenced to 40 years in prison for executing arguably the largest classified data leak in the history of the agency. He was also convicted of possessing child exploitation videos and materials on his computer.
Judge Sentences Joshua Schulte to 40 Years in WikiLeaks “Vault 7” Case https://t.co/MQYw0Jq5ku
— Democracy Now! (@democracynow) February 3, 2024
Joshua Schulte, 35, worked for the CIA for four years as a software engineer in the Center for Cyber Intelligence and was one of few employees who had direct access to the leaked data. Prosecutors stated in the hearing that they believe Schulte’s experience working for the CIA gave him an advantage in becoming an expert at secretly copying electronic data.
After his apartment in Manhattan, New York, was searched, his computers provided direct evidence that he had both the leaked data and child exploitation videos. Schulte’s defense team tried to have evidence thrown out because they claimed his apartment was illegally searched.
Joshua Schulte was convicted in 2022 of federal charges stemming from accusations that he was behind the largest theft of classified information in CIA history. https://t.co/FaYpprpDvF
— 48 Hours (@48hours) February 2, 2024
The prosecution immediately objected to the hearing request for the evidence dismissal. The Manhattan federal court also disagreed with the request and said the defense claims were “entirely without merit.”
After three trials in 2021, 2022 and 2023, USA Today reported that Schulte was sentenced to a total of 40 years in prison. Charges for espionage, computer hacking, contempt of court, and making false statements to the FBI, will account for 34 years. An additional 6 years were sentenced for his possession of child exploitation. Schulte’s computer contained inappropriate images of children that were obtained over a shocking 18-year span.
According to AP News, Deputy Director of the CIA David Cohen said in a statement, “His actions cost the Agency hundreds of millions of dollars; degraded its ability to collect foreign intelligence against America’s adversaries; placed directly at risk CIA personnel, programs, and assets; and jeopardized U.S. national security by degrading the CIA’s ability to conduct its mission. In short, Mr. Schulte’s actions inflicted heavy costs on the United States.”
Even more disturbing, Judge Jesse Furman revealed in the most recent hearing that Schulte had continued to leak CIA data and view illegal images of children while behind bars. The judge also said that Furman showed “no remorse” for his harmful actions. “We will likely never know the full extent of the damage, but I have no doubt it was massive,” he said.
Also during the hearing, U.S. Attorney Damian Williams commented, “Joshua Schulte betrayed his country by committing some of the most brazen, heinous crimes of espionage in American history. When the FBI caught him, Schulte doubled down and tried to cause even more harm to this nation by waging what he described as an ‘information war’ of publishing top secret information from behind bars.”