CIA programmer sentenced to 40 years in prison for revealing WikiLeaks secrets

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Insider information revealed extensive US espionage activities. A former CIA software engineer was sentenced to 40 years in prison for the largest theft of classified information in the agency's history and for possessing images and videos of child sexual abuse. The bulk of 35-year-old Joshua Schulte's sentence was for a major leak of CIA secrets through WikiLeaks in 2017. Schulte has been in custody since 2018. The court emphasized that "we will probably never know the full extent of the damage, but there is no doubt that it was enormous." The leak, called Vault 7, revealed the CIA's methods of hacking Apple and Android smartphones as part of overseas spy operations and attempting to turn internet-connected TVs, including Samsung TVs, into listening devices. Before his arrest, Schulte was involved in the creation of special programs for hacking targets as a programmer at the agency's headquarters in Langley, Virginia. Prosecutors had pushed for a life sentence, saying Schulte was responsible for the most devastating leaks of classified information in American history. “Schulte betrayed his country by committing some of the most brazen and heinous crimes of espionage in U.S. history,” the prosecutor added. Schulte complained about harsh prison conditions, calling his cell a “torture chamber,” but also argued that prosecutors offered him a 10-year deal and are now unfairly demanding a life sentence. The judge sharply criticized Schulte's statements, noting his "complete lack of remorse and acceptance of responsibility." The judge said Schulte was "motivated not by altruism but by anger, resentment and perceptions of injustice" toward colleagues at the agency who he believed ignored his complaints about the work environment. The judge also noted that Schulte continued to commit crimes from prison, attempting to leak even more classified material and creating a hidden file on his computer containing 2,400 images of child sexual abuse that he viewed in prison. Schulte's sentence came after jurors in the first trial in 2020 failed to reach a consensus on the most serious charges, including illegally collecting and transmitting information related to national defense. In July 2022, Schulte was found guilty of charges related to the leak of classified information.

 
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