Joshua Schulte, a former CIA programmer, has been found guilty by a jury in a Manhattan, NY court for stealing the trove of classified data on US cyber espionage that was exposed in the Vault 7 Wikileaks data dump.
Schulte, 33, was convicted of stealing and revealing secrets, including details about how the CIA used malware to compromise mobile phones and smart devices to spy on targets. The verdict was reported by Courthouse News Service, which said that in addition to the conviction on nine counts of stealing classified documents, Schulte has unrelated charges pending for child pornography. Altogether, he faces up to 80 years in prison.
A 2020 trial for Schulte ended with a deadlocked jury and a mistrial. Schulte opted to represent himself in the most recent proceedings, according to Courthouse News.
Schulte was first named as a suspect in the Vault 7 Wikileaks release in 2018. The cache of cyber spy secrets including zero-day vulnerabilities in Android, iOS, and Windows, along with known bugs in routers, smart TVs, and smart vehicles that were allegedly being exploited for spycraft by the CIA.
In a 2017 statement released along with the Vault 7 files, Wikileaks had bragged, “This extraordinary collection … gives the entire hacking capacity of the CIA.”
Federal prosecutors who charged Schulte agreed.
US Attorney Damian Williams said in reaction to the verdict that it was “one of the most brazen and damaging acts of espionage in American history.”
Prosecutors described Schulte as a disgruntled employee motivated by petty revenge against the CIA. “Schulte was aware that the collateral damage of his retribution could pose an extraordinary threat to this nation if made public, rendering them essentially useless, having a devastating effect on our intelligence community by providing critical intelligence to those who wish to do us harm,” Williams said.