Joshua Schulte, the largest leaker of CIA materials in history, was sentenced to 40 years in prison
Joshua Schulte, who was convicted of organizing the largest leak of classified materials in CIA history, was sentenced to 40 years in prison on Thursday.
Schulte, 35, handed over to WikiLeaks a set of CIA cyber espionage tools known as Vault 7, in what federal prosecutors described as “some of the most egregious violations of the Espionage Act in American history.” He was convicted in July 2022 of unlawfully handling classified information and obstruction of justice after a previous trial ended in a hung jury.
WikiLeaks began publishing classified data from the stolen CIA files, the first of 26 revelations, on March 7, 2017.
The intelligence trove revealed that the CIA had hacked smartphones in espionage operations, and exposed the spy agency’s efforts to turn Internet-connected televisions into listening devices, according to the Associated Press.
The CIA said Schulte “directly endangered CIA personnel, programs, and assets, and also endangered U.S. national security.”
“The impact on the CIA was immediately catastrophic,” federal prosecutors said. “The effect of the WikiLeaks revelations was a ‘digital Pearl Harbor.’ We were dead in the water.”
Prosecutors said there was no altruistic motive behind Schulte’s leak, arguing instead that it was an act of retaliation against his bosses who rehired him, revoked some of his IT privileges and criticized him for his increasingly militant behavior.
Schulte was also convicted last September of possession of child pornography.
“Today, Joshua Schulte was rightfully punished, not only for betraying our country, but for possessing a large quantity of horrific child pornography,” James Smith, the FBI assistant director in charge, said in a statement after the sentencing. “The seriousness of his actions is clear, and the sentence imposed reflects the disturbing and harmful threat posed by his criminal behaviour.”