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Authored by Katabella Roberts via The Epoch Times (emphasis ours),

A former software engineer for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for carrying out the “largest data breach” of classified materials in the agency’s history. He also faced charges related to child abuse imagery, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced.

In this courtroom sketch, Joshua Schulte is seated at the defense table flanked by his attorneys during jury deliberations in New York, on March 4, 2020. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Joshua Schulte, a 35-year-old former CIA programmer, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Jesse M. Furman in a federal court in New York on Thursday for espionage, computer hacking, contempt of court, making false statements to the FBI, and child pornography charges.

The sentencing follows his convictions at trials that concluded in March 2020, July 2022, and September last year.

Prosecutors initially sought a life sentence for Mr. Schulte, accused of stealing classified CIA documents and leaking them to the whistleblowing organization WikiLeaks.

WikiLeaks began publishing the classified data, known as “Vault 7,” in March 2017.

The files were dated 2013–2016 and concerned tactics and tools used by the CIA to surveil foreign governments, alleged extremists, and others by compromising their electronics, including smartphones, computers, smart TVs, and messaging applications.

Mr. Schulte had helped develop the hacking tools used by the agency as a coder at the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.

Prosecutors said that Mr. Schulte repeatedly denied any involvement in the leak and refuted being the source of it. Instead, he was accused of “spinning fake narratives about ways the stolen CIA files could have been obtained from CIA computers,” in an attempt to deflect suspicion from himself and divert law enforcement resources toward false leads.

Breach Cost CIA ‘Hundreds of Millions of Dollars’

Mr. Schulte has consistently maintained his innocence, claiming that the CIA and FBI have scapegoated him for the March 2017 leak. He insists that it was the result of a hack.

However, prosecutors say the leak of the files “immediately and profoundly damaged the CIA’s ability to collect foreign intelligence against America’s adversaries” and placed CIA personnel, programs, and assets directly at risk while costing the agency hundreds of millions of dollars.

Mr. Schulte has been detained, pending trial, since 2018.

The former CIA worker has also been charged with receiving, possessing, and transporting child pornography after prosecutors said a search of his home led to the discovery of “layers of encryption hiding tens of thousands of videos and images of child sexual abuse materials” on his computer.

That included 3,400 images and videos of “disturbing and horrific child pornography” as well as “images of bestiality and sadomasochism,” prosecutors said.

Mr. Schulte collected the images during his employment with the CIA via the dark web, according to prosecutors.

Schulte’s ‘Information War’

They further claimed that Mr. Schulte made plans to wage what he called an “information war” against the government after his arrest. He obtained contraband cellphones while in jail, which he used to create anonymous, encrypted email and social media accounts.

He allegedly used the cellphones to transmit more of the materials to WikiLeaks and “planned to use the anonymous email and social media accounts to publish a manifesto and various other postings containing classified information about CIA cyber techniques and cyber tools,” the DOJ said.

Joshua Schulte betrayed his country by committing some of the most brazen, heinous crimes of espionage in American history. 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,” U.S. attorney Damian Williams said in a statement announcing Mr. Schulte’s sentencing.

“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. And all the while, Schulte collected thousands upon thousands of videos and images of children being subjected to sickening abuse for his own personal gratification,” Mr. Williams continued.

Prosecutors praised the “outstanding investigative work” of the FBI and prosecutors in unmasking Mr. Schulte for “the traitor and predator that he is.”

Their work ensured that he would spend 40 years behind bars, “right where he belongs,” Mr Williams added.

In addition to the 40 years in prison, Mr. Schulte, who represented himself in court, was also sentenced to a lifetime of supervised release.

Mimi Nguyen Ly and Reuters contributed to this report.

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