Leaked Secrets: Former CIA Hacker Sentenced To 40 Years In Imprisonment

'Schulte shared more than 8,761 documents with Wikileaks in 2017, amounting to the largest data breach in the history of the CIA.'

Leaked Secrets: Former CIA Hacker Sentenced To 40 Years In Imprisonment

A former CIA officer has been sentenced to 40 years in jail for providing sensitive hacking tools to Wikileaks, a whistleblowing platform.

Joshua Schulte was also convicted of having child abuse photos.

Prosecutors accuse him of exposing the CIA's "Vault 7" tools, which enable intelligence operatives to hack iPhones and use them as listening devices.

They described the disclosure as one of the most "brazen" in US history.

Schulte, 35, provided 8,761 documents to WikiLeaks in 2017, resulting in the CIA's worst data breach in history, according to the US Justice Department.

He challenged the accusations but was found guilty on all counts during three consecutive federal trials in New York in 2020, 2022, and 2023.

On Thursday, he was sentenced for espionage, computer hacking, contempt of court, providing false statements to the FBI, and possessing child abuse photos.

"Joshua Schulte betrayed his country by committing some of the most brazen, heinous espionage crimes in American history," US Attorney Damian Williams stated.

According to evidence presented during the trial, Schulte worked as a software engineer for the Center for Cyber Intelligence, which conducts cyber espionage against terrorist organizations and other countries.

Prosecutors said that in 2016, he sent stolen material to WikiLeaks and then lied to FBI investigators about his involvement in the leak.

They said that he was apparently driven by rage over a workplace conflict.

Schulte had been failing to fulfill deadlines, and Assistant US Attorney Michael Lockard stated one of his projects had fallen so far behind schedule that he had acquired the nickname "Drifting Deadline."

The prosecution stated that he sought to punish people he thought to have mistreated him and that in doing so, he "caused enormous damage to this country's national security."

WikiLeaks started disseminating classified information from the files in 2017.

The breach, according to prosecutors, "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."

Following WikiLeaks' publication of the material, the FBI interrogated Schulte multiple times, during which he denied culpability.

According to authorities, a search of his flat yielded "tens of thousands of images of child sexual abuse materials."

They further stated that following his detention, Schulte sought to convey more information. He snuck a phone into jail and attempted to email a reporter information about CIA cyber divisions. He also composed tweets with information about CIA cyber tools using the alias Jason Bourne, a fictitious intelligence operator.

He has been behind bars since 2018.

This article was originally published on the BBC.