Former CIA engineer convicted for largest data leak in agency's history

Joshua Schulte was accused of handing over massive amounts of classified information about the CIA's surveillance practices.

Updated: July 14, 2022 - 2:21pm

Former Central Intelligence Agency engineer Joshua Schulte was convicted in federal court Wednesday for what some believe to be the biggest leak of classified material in the agency's history.

Schulte was found guilty on nine counts in his second court case since his initial arrest in  2018. He was arrested on charges of stealing the CIA's Vault 7 material and subsequently uploading it to Wikileaks. Some of the stolen data contained information about the CIA's hacks of Apple and Android smartphones during foreign espionage operations.

According to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams, Schulte was convicted of "one of the most brazen and damaging acts of espionage in American history." He had argued in court that Schulte leaked some of the country's "most valuable intelligence-gathering cyber tools used to battle terrorist organizations" and other malicious influences around the world. 

"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," he said.

The Vault 7 leak was published to Wikileaks in 2017, and contained information that details the CIA's ongoing electronic surveillance efforts. 

Schulte, serving as his own attorney, claimed that investigators had run a "political witch hunt from day one," quickly identifying Schulte as the guilty party and working backward from there. He was previously convicted in 2020 on one count of contempt of court, and one of making false statements to the FBI. Separately, Schulte has pleaded not guilty to a set of charges pertaining to the possession of child pornography.