Former CIA agent Jonah Schulte has received a 40-year prison term for leaking a wealth of classified hacking tools to a whistleblowing website Wikileaks.
The former officer was also found guilty of being in possession of photos of child abuse.
The prosecutors are claiming that he leaked the “Vault 7” technologies that the CIA uses to hack cell phones and use them as listening devices.
According to them, this leak is among the most “brazen” in US history.
The US Justice Department alleged that Schulte, 35, was responsible for the greatest data breach in the history of the CIA when he provided 8,761 records with Wikileaks in 2017.
In three different federal trials held in New York in 2020, 2022, and 2023, he was found guilty on all charges despite his denial of the accusations.
He was found guilty on Thursday on the charges of espionage, computer hacking, contempt of court, making false statements to the FBI, and possessing pictures of child abuse.”
US Attorney Damian Williams said, “Joshua Schulte betrayed his country by committing some of the most brazen, heinous crimes of espionage in American history.”
Trial testimony revealed that Schulte worked as a software engineer for the Centre for Cyber Intelligence, a company that carries out cyber espionage against foreign governments and terrorist groups.
In 2016, he allegedly sent the stolen data to Wikileaks and then told FBI investigators false information about his involvement in the leak, according to the prosecution.
According to them, he appeared to be driven by resentment following a disagreement at work.
US Attorney Michael Lockard had said that due to his inability to fulfil deadlines, Schulte had acquired the moniker “Drifting Deadline,” as his projects were far behind schedule.
It was said that he wanted to retaliate against those who he believed had wronged him, and in “carrying out that revenge, he caused enormous damage to this country’s national security”.
In 2017, Wikileaks started making classified info from the files available to the public.
The prosecutors then said that the leak “immediately and profoundly damaged the CIA’s ability to collect foreign intelligence against America’s adversaries; placed CIA personnel, programs, and assets directly at risk; and cost the CIA hundreds of millions of dollars.”
After WikiLeaks released the material, Schulte was questioned by the FBI many times, during which he denied any involvement.
Prosecutors then revealed that after searching his flat, “tens of thousands of images of child sexual abuse materials” were found.
They also said that Schulte tried to send out further information following his detention. He tried to email a reporter information on CIA cyber units using a phone he snuck into jail. He also sent tweets regarding CIA cyber tools while using the fictitious intelligence agent’s identity, Jason Bourne.
He has been incarcerated since 2018.