Joshua Schulte is accused of the largest theft of classified data in the history of the spy agency
A former CIA software engineer who embarrassed his employer by providing a trove of classified information to WikiLeaks has been sentenced to 40 years in prison.
U.S. District Judge Jesse Fuhrman handed down the sentence against Joshua Schulte on Thursday, which is less than the life prison sentence sought by federal prosecutors. Schulte, who was accused of carrying out the largest theft of American secrets in CIA history, was convicted of espionage, computer hacking, contempt of court, making false statements to the FBI, and possession of child pornography.
Schulte, 35, was allegedly the source behind the so-called Vault 7 release by WikiLeaks in 2017, which exposed methods used by the CIA to hack smartphones and other devices. The bombshell report revealed how the United States spied on foreign governments, terrorism suspects and other targets, creating a major embarrassment for intelligence agencies in Washington. The CIA reportedly raised the secret Plot To kidnap or assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
Before his arrest in 2018, Schulte helped create the hacking tools that he later revealed to WikiLeaks. The CIA's tactics included efforts to turn so-called smart TVs—TVs connected to the Internet—into listening devices. Prosecutors claimed he was behind it “The Most Damaging Secret Information Revealed in American History.”
Schulte argued during his trial in July 2022 that the CIA and FBI made him a scapegoat for a humiliating leak of data that could have been stolen by hundreds of other people. He also claimed that he had no motive to do such a leak. During Thursday's sentencing hearing, he complained about the terrible conditions in his New York prison cell, which he described as “scary.” “torture cage” He said prosecutors are looking “Revenge” After previously offering him a plea deal calling for a 10-year prison sentence.
Foreman found that Schulte was motivated by “Anger, hatred, and perceived grievance.” against his CIA bosses after they ignored his complaints about working conditions. After his imprisonment in 2018, the former programmer continued to attempt to leak classified materials in what prosecutors described as a crime. “Information war” With the US government, the judge said.
While executing a search warrant in the espionage case, FBI investigators allegedly found an encrypted stash of more than 3,000 images and videos depicting child sexual abuse on Schulte's home computer, according to prosecutors. More than six years of the 40-year prison sentence stemmed from the pornography charges.
Although Foreman did not agree to the US Department of Justice's request for a life sentence for Schulte, he agreed to serve the prison sentence. “Promoting terrorism” A legal provision allowing harsher penalties for terrorism-related crimes.
Assange, who has been imprisoned in London since 2019 while fighting for extradition to the United States, faces a sentence of up to 175 years on 17 espionage charges.