Former CIA engineer Joshua Schulte was found guilty by a federal jury Wednesday on nine counts for the biggest classified data theft in the agency’s history.
U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman announced the verdict in New York, where the retrial took place. Schulte’s first trial in 2020 was pronounced a mistrial after the jury faced a deadlock on the most important charges , which included illegal gathering and transmission of national defense information, according to AP News. Schulte now faces a maximum sentence of 80 years, The New York Times reported.
BREAKING: Alleged WikiLeaks #Vault7 whistleblower Joshua Schulte found guilty on all counts
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) July 13, 2022
The 33-year-old still awaits sentencing since he needs to be tried for the “receipt, possession, and transportation of child pornography, as well as criminal copyright infringement.” He allegedly had more than 10,000 images on various electronic devices. (RELATED: Former CIA Hacker Charged For Releasing Hack Code To Outside Organization)
Schulte alleged that the CIA made him the scapegoat for their own accidental release of documents to WikiLeaks. “Hundreds of people could have stolen it”, he told the jury, according to AP News. (RELATED: WikiLeaks Claims 99 Percent Of Its CIA Documents Not Yet Released)
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams called Schulte’s actions “one of the most brazen and damaging acts of espionage in American history” in a statement. He claimed Schulte knew that the release of documents had “a devastating effect on our intelligence community by providing critical intelligence to those who wish to do us harm.”
Statement of U.S. Attorney Damian Williams on the espionage conviction of ex-CIA programmer Joshua Adam Schultehttps://t.co/uWtfu4Cyzl
— US Attorney SDNY (@SDNYnews) July 13, 2022
The document release that came to be known as “Vault 7” leaks included documents relating to the CIA’s missions to hack personal devices abroad and use them as spying tools. The defendant himself coded for the creation of the hacking tools. (RELATED: CIA Sought Out To Hack Cars, Leaked Docs Say)
The prosecution claimed Schulte initiated the leak because the CIA allegedly had ignored his previous complaints about the work environment, according to AP News.
After the verdict was released, Judge Furman congratulated the defendant on his trial: “Mr. Schulte, that was impressively done,” AP News reported.