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WikiLeaks-Connected Ex-CIA Programmer Convicted on Historical Charges

Former CIA software engineer Joshua Schulte was convicted on Wednesday of federal charges accusing him of the biggest theft of classified information in CIA history. Schulte defended himself in a New York City retrial, and he told jurors in his closing arguments that the CIA and FBI were making him a scapegoat for the public release of CIA secrets by WikiLeaks in 2017, the Associated Press reported. The leak he referred to is known as the Vault 7 leak. It revealed that the CIA hacked Apple and Android smart phones in overseas covert operations and also made efforts to turn internet-connected televisions into listening devices. Before being arrested, Schulte had helped in creating the necessary hacking tools in Langley, Virginia. U.S. Attorney Damian Williams of the Southern District of New York, outlined in a statement that as a programmer with access to valuable intelligence, Schulte was able to secretly collect the tools created for hacking and provide information to WikiLeaks, Fox News reported. Williams said that Schulte did this out of resentment to the CIA. According to Williams, when Schulte “began to harbor resentment toward the CIA, he covertly collected those tools and provided them to WikiLeaks, making some of our most critical intelligence tools known to the public — and therefore, our adversaries,” Williams said. “Moreover, 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 added. Williams, along with Assistant U.S. Attorney David Denton, argued that Schulte acted out of some sort of a grudge toward the CIA because he felt disrespected after his complaints about the work environment had been ignored, AP reported. Reacting to that, Schulte then tried “to burn to the ground” the very work he had helped the agency to create, the prosecutors claimed. Denton pointed out that Schulte even had a to-do list that included, “Delete suspicious emails.” But Schulte told the jury that he was singled out, even though “hundreds of people had access to (the information). … Hundreds of people could have stolen it.” “The government’s case is riddled with reasonable doubt,” he added in his closing arguments. “There’s simply no motive here.” Though found guilty on Wednesday of the charges of stealing CIA secrets, Schulte’s sentencing date has yet to be set. Schulte still faces charges of possessing and transporting child pornography, to which he pleaded not guilty. The former CIA engineer did not visibly react when U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman announced the guilty verdict on nine counts, AP reported. Though a verdict was reached on Wednesday, the jury had been in deliberations since Friday. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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