July 13 (BP) — A former Central Intelligence Agency software engineer was convicted Wednesday on federal charges stemming from the theft of classified national defensive information that was published by Wikileaks in 2017.
U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement that the theft by Joshua Adam Schulte, 33, was “one of the most brazen and damaging acts of espionage in American history.”
As a CIA programmer, Schulte had access to valuable intelligence-gathering tools used to confront terrorist organizations and others, which he stole and leaked to Wikileaks once he started harboring resentment toward his employer, Williams said, adding the publication of the information made it available to adversaries of the United States.
“Schulte was aware that the collateral damage of his retribution could pose an extraordinary threat to this nation if made public, rendering them essentially useless, having a devastating effect on our intelligence community by providing critical intelligence to those who wish to do us harm,” he said.
The New York resident was arrested in August of 2017 on child pornography charges but was later indicted in June the next year on 13 counts in connection to the theft of a trove of classified national defense information.
Wikileaks released the thousands of documents in March of 2017 detailing the CIA’s methods to bypass encryption on electronic devices, including cellphones and smart TVs, to access users’ personal messages and information.
The controversial anti-secrecy non-profit founded by Julian Assange said publishing the documents meant the CIA had “lost control of the majority of its hacking arsenal.”
On Wednesday, Schulte was convicted on nine counts stemming from the national security allegations during a trial in which he defended himself.
The trial was held after a previous jury found him guilty of making false statements and criminal contempt of court but were unable to reach a unanimous verdict on the charges concerning the leak of documents.
Schulte is still facing a slew of charges accusing him of receiving, possessing and transporting some 10,000 images and videos of child pornography.
The conviction against Schulte was handed down as Assange, 51, faces extradition to the United States from Britain.
The controversial Australian has been in a London jail for three years after being arrested at the Ecuadorian embassy where he sought refugee from the U.S. legal system.
He has been charged in an 18-count indictment for his alleged involvement in what prosecutors have said is one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.