CIA Secrets Leaker Receives 40-Year Prison Sentence

( – Thursday, February 1, 35-year-old former CIA software engineer Joshua Schulte was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison at the Manhattan federal court for publicly releasing CIA secrets through WikiLeaks, a media organization and publisher founded by Julian Assange designed to protect whistleblowers. He was also charged with possession of approximately 3,400 photos and videos of child sexual abuse. Shulte has been in prison since 2018.

Schulte’s attorney, César de Castro, and Schulte’s defense team asked for nine years at the sentencing, adding that Schulte had already suffered during his six-year confinement since his arrest. Shulte referred to his cell at the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn as a “torture cage” and his defense referred to his incarceration there as one of “continuous torture”. He said that he had once been offered a plea deal by prosecutors for a 10-year sentence, but he had rejected it as it would have negated his ability to appeal. His attorney commented he was glad the 40-year sentence was not longer as some were pressing for a life sentence.

Judge Jesse M. Furman was critical of what he characterized as Schulte’s lack of remorse. He also mentioned that Schulte had continued his crimes while in jail by creating a hidden file on his computer to conceal the child abuse materials he collected and attempting to leak more classified materials. While Schulte accused the government of seeking vengeances rather than justice, the Judge said that he didn’t believe Schulte was motivated by any sense of altruism but instead he was nurturing a perceived sense of grievance and struck out in spite and anger.

Judge Furman commented that the full extent of the damage from the so-called Vault 7 leak may never be known. Schulte worked with an elite CIA hacking unit and his leaked data included information about the CIA hacking Apple and Android smartphones in overseas spying operations, as well as their efforts to turn internet-connected televisions into listening devices. Assistant U.S. Attorney David William Denton Jr. referred to his disclosures as some of the most damaging in American history. CIA Deputy Director David S. Cohen pointed out that had cost the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardized U.S. national security.

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