WikiLeaks mistrial: ex CIA engineer found not guilty for gathering national defense information

by Ugnius Kiguolis - -

Jury unable to reach the verdict in the trial: minor conviction for an ex-CIA coder responsible for the massive Vault 7 leak

Jury unable to reach verdict in WikiLeaks trial

A federal judge in New York declared a mistrial in the case of former CIA coder on Monday.[1] Joshua Schulte was accused of stealing a massive amount of agencies classified hacking tools and provided all the information to the WikiLeaks site.[2] The jury couldn't come to the verdict on eight counts of the theft and transmission of CIA's confidential documents. However, the ex CIA engineer was found guilty on two counts of contempt of court and making false statements to FBI agents.[3]

During the four week trial in the Manhattan federal court, prosecutors declared that Schulte exploited a back door in the CIA's systems to copy confidential documents and was responsible that WikiLeaks published documents as the so-called Vault 7 leak.[4] However, the jury found that the government couldn't prove the case to convict Schulte on espionage charges and were left deadlocked, so he got convicted of two other minor counts instead. Defense lawyers stated that prosecutors withheld evidence that could potentially exonerate their client during the trial.

Vault 7 – the biggest leak of classified data

The office of Central Intelligence Agency in Virginia turned into the crime scene back in 2017 on March 7th when WikiLeaks has published the trove of confidential documents. The documents revealed secret spying methods used to penetrate computer systems of foreign governments and terrorists. The investigation revealed more than 1,000 devices from the CIA that agents used in such operations. Finally, Joshua Schulte, a former computer engineer of the agency, got arrested. 

As prosecutors said, the motivation of the ex-CIA engineer was to show his worth. Schulte was feuding with co-workers, and he was certain that his complaints about the workplace were not taken seriously by CIA management. Joshua joined Bloomberg L.P as a software engineer after his resignation from the CIA in November 2016. 

The trial on Monday, March 9th, 2020, however, showed that the jury couldn't fully agree on the conviction of the biggest theft of such data in CIA history. Illegal gathering, the transmission of national defense information, and the other six counts got held back, and the jury agreed to convict Mr. Schulte on two other charges. 

A separate trial for child pornography and wait for the final verdict in Vault 7 trial

Vault 7 exposed secret cyber-weapons and spying techniques that the government uses to monitor or break into computers, phones, webcams, video streams, televisions, and other networks worldwide. The court needs to go back to the evidence and discuss the nest stages of the case.

Even though prosecutors presented 18 witnesses and more than 1,000 exhibits, the judge stated that there are many questions that the government hasn't answered:

There are more questions now than when this trial first began.

Additional charges got unveiled, and Schulte is charged with possession and transportation of child pornography.[5] He is going through a separate trial where the charges have not been adjudicated yet, but the maximum sentence can go up to 20 years in prison.

About the author

Ugnius Kiguolis
Ugnius Kiguolis - The mastermind

Ugnius Kiguolis is a professional malware analyst who is also the founder and the owner of 2-Spyware. At the moment, he takes over as Editor-in-chief.

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