Former CIA Engineer Sentenced to Decades Behind Bars

( – Former CIA engineer Joshua Schulte has received his sentence after he was accused of releasing classified documents and possessing explicit media of children. The 35-year-old will spend the next 40 years behind bars. The decision was made after he sent a massive trove of CIA documents to Wikileaks. It has been called “the biggest theft of classified information in CIA history” by prosecutors. He has already been in jail since 2018, the year after his document dump.

Judge Jesse M. Furman said the damage is likely far-reaching and that officials will likely never be able to determine its full extent.

The leak, dubbed the “Vault 7 leak,” detailed much of the CIA’s tools, processes, and programs designed for its cyber surveillance and espionage. Those documents discuss how the federal agency managed to hack Android and Apple smartphones and use them for spying.

It also discusses how they turned a variety of privately owned electronics, including televisions, into listening devices. Schulte was among the developers who helped build the hacking tools used by the CIA. The agency claimed it used those tools to monitor foreign intelligence.

Schulte initially said that he released the documents after numerous complaints about the conditions of the agency’s work were ignored. The DOJ also claimed that he wanted to “breakup diplomatic relationships, close embassies, [and] end U.S. occupation across the world[.]” Prosecutors argued that he was only seeking vengeance.

Schulte was later discovered to be still viewing explicit content involving children while incarcerated. His computer contained thousands of media files that ultimately accounted for about 6 years of his 40-year sentence. Some of those materials were described as very disturbing. He also continued his attempts to publicize classified information from jail.

The judge and prosecutors said they were shocked by Schulte’s seeming lack of regret for the crimes he committed. He was described as refusing to accept responsibility even after his conviction. Schulte was convicted of the crimes related to espionage in July 2022 and the charges related to the explicit materials in the fall of 2023.

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