Former CIA employee jailed for 40 years for largest leak in agency’s history


A former CIA employee has been jailed for 40 years over the largest leak of classified information in the agency’s history.

Joshua Schulte, a software engineer from New York, passed the data to whistleblowing agency WikiLeaks in the so-called Vault 7 leak in 2017.

Prosecutors, who had pushed for a full life term, said in a statement on Thursday, Schulte was guilty of espionage, computer hacking, contempt of court, making false statements to the FBI, and possession of child sex abuse images and videos.

FILE - In this courtroom sketch, Joshua Schulte, center, is seated at the defense table flanked by his attorneys during jury deliberations, Wednesday March 4, 2020, in New York. Schulte, a former CIA software engineer accused of causing the biggest theft of classified information in CIA history, has told a jury Thursday, July 7, 2022 there's not enough evidence to convict him, as he defended himself at a retrial. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
Joshua Schulte, centre. File pic: AP

Schulte was sentenced in a federal court in New York.

The Vault 7 leak exposed secret hacking tools and led to a series of embarrassing revelations about the agency’s activities.

That year, WikiLeaks exposed details of how the CIA monitored foreign governments, alleged extremists and others by compromising their electronics and computer networks.

It was, prosecutors said, “the largest data breach in the history of the CIA, and his transmission of that stolen information to WikiLeaks is one of the largest unauthorised disclosures of classified information” in US history.

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Investigators working on the leak case found thousands of child sex abuse pictures and videos in Schulte’s Manhattan flat, in an encrypted container beneath three layers of password protection.

He was convicted in July 2022 on four counts each of espionage and computer hacking, one count of lying to FBI agents and was also found guilty of possessing child sex abuse images.

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