A former CIA employee was convicted Wednesday of carrying out the largest leak of classified data in the agency’s history to Wikileaks.
Joshua Schulte -accused of giving classified data to WikiLeaks in 2016- was convicted of unlawfully collecting and transmitting national defense information and obstructing a criminal investigation and grand jury proceeding, among other charges, CNN reported.
Schulte had worked as a computer engineer within the CIA’s Cyber Intelligence Center, and created cybernetic tools that could capture data from computers without being detected. A previous trial ended with a hung jury in 2020.
The former CIA employee had access to “some of the most valuable cyber intelligence-gathering tools in the country, used to fight terrorist organizations and other malign influences around the world,” Damian Williams, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, explained in a statement.
“When Schulte began to harbor resentment toward the CIA, covertly collected those tools and provided them to WikiLeaks, making some of our most critical intelligence tools known to the public,” added Williams.
Schulte’s problems at the CIA began in the summer of 2015, when he had a dispute with management and a co-worker, and ended up filing a restraining order against the partner in state court, court records show.
Also, the researchers noted that Schulte stole cyber tools and source code and transferred them to WikiLeaksaccording to the same court records.
He then tried to cover his tracks, erasing any trace of your access to the computer system, prosecutors assured.
Schulte left the CIA in November 2016 and In March 2017, WikiLeaks published the first installment of their Vault 7 leaks, that originated from two shows Schulte had access to, court records show.
WikiLeaks published a press release to accompany the information, saying that the data had been provided anonymously by a source who wanted to raise policy issues, specifically about whether the CIA had overstepped its hacking capabilities and exceeded its authority.
Schulte, who would also have lied to CIA and FBI investigators to cover his tracks, was arrested in August 2017 on child pornography charges.
“Schulte was aware that the collateral damage of his retribution could pose an extraordinary threat to this nation if made public, rendering them essentially useless, having a devastating effect on our intelligence community by providing critical data to those who wish to harm us,” Williams said.
Thus, he emphasized that “today, Schulte has been sentenced for one of the most brazen and damaging acts of espionage in American history.”