US: It was announced on Wednesday (July 13) that a former CIA software engineer has been found guilty of the largest theft of secret information in the agency’s history.
During his retrial in New York City, Joshua Schulte claimed in closing arguments that the CIA and the FBI made him the scapegoat for WikiLeaks’ embarrassing 2017 leak of a cache of CIA secrets.
On Friday, the jury’s deliberations got underway.
So-called Vault 7 leaked information about CIA hacking of Apple and Android handsets in overseas intelligence operations and attempts to transform Internet-connected TVs into listening devices. Schulte worked as a coder at the agency’s Langley, Virginia, headquarters before his arrest.
According to prosecutors, the 33-year-old Schulte was driven to organize the leak by the belief that the CIA mistreated him by dismissing his complaints about his working conditions, which prompted him to do so. According to the agency, he then attempted to “burn to the ground” the work he had helped to develop.
Even though he was in prison awaiting trial, authorities claim that while he was engaged in a “information war” against the government, he tried to leak additional confidential files from his cell.
While “hundreds of people had access to (the material)… he was picked out,” Schulte argued in his closing statement. It may have been stolen by dozens of people.
There is “reasonable doubt” in the government’s case, said the prosecutor. “There’s no reason for this at all.”
David Denton, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, argued that Schulte had stolen a critical backup computer file.
As Denton put it, “He’s the one who broke into that system. That backup he supplied to WikiLeaks was taken by him,” says the source.
Courtroom evidence of an attempted coverup, such as the “Delete questionable emails” task list drawn by Schulte, was also supported by the prosecutor.
When it comes to his mistakes, Denton sees “someone who is concealing.”
On Schulte’s closing argument, US District Judge Jesse Furman commended.
Even after all of the jurors had left the courtroom, the judge still exclaimed, “That was impressively done,” to Schulte. “You may have a career as a defense attorney based on the outcome of this case.”
Due to a jury deadlock on the most serious accusations, involving the illegal acquisition and transmission of national defense information, Schulte’s initial 2020 trial was deemed a mistrial and a new trial has been set for 2019. Last year, Schulte informed the judge that he intended to represent himself in the retrial.
Since the beginning of 2018, Schulte has been kept without bail in a prison cell. When he was sentenced to two years in prison and placed in solitary confinement in a vermin-infested cell at a facility where convicts are treated like “caged animals,” he filed a lawsuit alleging that he had been subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.