Former CIA Engineer Sentenced to 40 Years for Leaking Classified Documents

By neub9
3 Min Read

Feb 02, 2024NewsroomNational Security / Data Breach

A former software engineer with the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been sentenced to 40 years in prison by the Southern District of New York (SDNY) for transmitting classified documents to WikiLeaks and for possessing child pornographic material.

Joshua Adam Schulte, 35, was convicted in July 2022 and sentenced on September 13, 2023, for receiving, possessing, and transporting child pornography. In addition to the prison term, Schulte has been sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release.

“Schulte’s theft is the largest data breach in the history of the CIA, and his transmission of that stolen information to WikiLeaks is one of the largest unauthorized disclosures of classified information in the history of the U.S.,” the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) said.

The sensitive information shared by Schulte included a tranche of hacking tools and exploits known as Vault 7 and Vault 8, which were published by WikiLeaks over an eight-month period starting March 7, 2017.

As a software developer in the Center for Cyber Intelligence (CCI) from 2012 to 2016, Schulte had access to tools related to offensive cyber operations conducted by the CIA, and he abused his privileges to steal copies of the entire CCI tool development archives in 2016.

The leak cost the agency “hundreds of millions of dollars” and “severely harmed U.S. national security,” according to the prosecutors.

He was also found to be in possession of a large collection of child sexual abuse material (CSAM), including images and videos collected from the dark web and Russian websites.

During his detention, Schulte attempted to transmit protected discovery materials to WikiLeaks and publish classified information about CIA cyber techniques and tools using contraband cell phones in jail.

“Joshua Schulte was rightly punished not only for his betrayal of our country, but for his substantial possession of horrific child pornographic material,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge James Smith.

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