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Ex-CIA officer sentenced to 40 years for giving secrets to WikiLeaks

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Schulte was convicted for the Vault 7 leak, which has been described as one of the biggest breaches of classified data in US history.

Joshua A Schulte, a former CIA software engineer charged with giving a massive batch of classified documents to WikiLeaks, has been sentenced to 40 years for multiple charges.

US authorities claim Schulte was responsible for the CIA’s largest ever data breach, as his alleged contributions to WikiLeaks are regarded as one of the largest unauthorised disclosures of classified information in US history.

This relates to an incident in 2017 known as the Vault 7 leak, when 8,761 classified documents detailing CIA hacking tools made their way onto WikiLeaks. Schulte quickly became the prime suspect and faced multiple convictions at trials that concluded on 9 March 2020, 13 July 2022 and 13 September 2023.

The US authorities also claim that Schulte’s personal computer contained tens of thousands of videos and images of child sexual abuse material (CSAM). Schulte denied the charges and accused the CIA and FBI of making him a scapegoat for the leak of CIA documents, the Independent reports.

“Joshua Schulte betrayed his country by committing some of the most brazen, heinous crimes of espionage in American history,” said US attorney Damian Williams. “He caused untold damage to our national security in his quest for revenge against the CIA for its response to Schulte’s security breaches while employed there.

“When the FBI caught him, Schulte doubled down and tried to cause even more harm to this nation by waging what he described as an ‘information war’ of publishing top secret information from behind bars.”

Schulte’s sentence is based on a conviction for alleged crimes of espionage, computer hacking, contempt of court, making false statements to the FBI and having CSAM. In addition to this prison sentence, he also received a lifetime sentence of supervised release.

The massive leak on CIA spying tools contained some shocking claims, including suggestions that hackers could gain entry to Apple iPhones as well as Google Android devices and Samsung TVs to capture private data.

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