Joshua Schulte

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Joshua Schulte
Schulte MCC cell phone.png
Born
Joshua Adam Schulte

(1988-09-25) September 25, 1988 (age 31)
NationalityAmerican
OccupationSoftware Engineer
EmployerCIA
Known forAlleged involvement in the leak of classified information to WikiLeaks
Home townLubbock, Texas

Joshua Adam Schulte (born September 25, 1988) is a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee who is suspected of being involved in a 2016 leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks, the Vault 7 documents, which The New York Times called "the largest loss of classified documents in the agency's history and a huge embarrassment for C.I.A. officials."[1][2]

Career[edit]

Schulte graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011 with a degree in computer engineering. While studying at the University of Texas, he began working for IBM. Then, from January 2010 to May 2010, he was employed as a systems engineer by the National Security Agency (NSA), including time spent within the Technology Directorate.[3]

Around the time that he ended his employment with the NSA, he began working for the CIA as a software engineer. By November 2016, he had left the CIA to move to New York, and, up until his arrest and detention on August 24, 2017,[4][5] worked as a senior software engineer for Bloomberg LP.[6]

Leaks of classified information[edit]

On March 7, 2017, WikiLeaks began to publish content code-named "Vault 7". The confidential documents, dated from 2013–2016, included details on the CIA's software capabilities, such as the ability to compromise cars, smart TVs,[7] web browsers,[8][9][10] and the operating systems of most smartphones, as well as other operating systems.[11]

On May 15, 2018, both The Washington Post and The New York Times published news articles about Schulte being a suspect in a federal investigation concerning the unauthorized disclosure of classified information to WikiLeaks.[2][1]

Later that same day, the government "alerted the court to a violation, a potential breach of the protective order" in which "various search warrants and search warrant affidavits" were leaked to the press. The government learned that Schulte, while in the course of making phone calls from prison sometime in May 2018, had distributed "Protected Search Warrant Materials to his family members for purposes of dissemination to other third parties, including members of the media," some of which included classified information.[12] In the government's view, they considered this "a clear breach of the protective order. It is unacceptable, particularly unacceptable given that this defendant has a pattern of violating the Court's orders."[13]

About a month later, on June 18, 2018, the grand jury issued a superseding indictment, adding ten more counts to the original three: illegal gathering of national defense information, illegal transmission of lawfully possessed national defense information, illegal transmission of unlawfully possessed national defense information, unauthorized access to a computer to obtain classified information, theft of government property, unauthorized access to a computer to obtain information from a department or agency of the United States, causing transmission of a harmful computer program, information, code, or command, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and criminal copyright infringement.[14]

An additional superseding indictment was issued on October 31, 2018, which added two more charges—contempt of court, and illegal transmission and attempted transmission of unlawfully possessed national defense information—bringing the amount to a total of fifteen.[15]

Outlined in a letter to the court later that day, the government revealed that Schulte had been—within a period sometime in early October 2018—discovered using "one or more smuggled contraband cellphones to communicate clandestinely with third parties" outside of New York's Metropolitan Correctional Center, where he was being held, and that the grand jury had issued "dozens of subpoenas and pen register orders," revealing that Schulte was using "approximately 13 email and social media accounts (including encrypted email accounts)."[12]

Discovery[edit]

During a court hearing on August 8, 2018, counsel for Schulte told the court that they believed "that the government owes Mr. Schulte a Brady disclosure." In response, the government said they were "prepared to make all appropriate disclosures as soon as possible."[16] The government delivered a Brady disclosure to Schulte on September 25, 2018.[17]

On December 12, 2018, the court imposed severe security measures in the areas containing discovery material. Since then, Schulte has been required to be in full restraints and secured to a bolt in the floor while in the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF), and stripped searched upon leaving the SCIF at the end of each session.[18]

On February 12, 2019, the government informed the court that, in consulting with the Metropolitan Correctional Center, it was determined that "the hard drives containing the defendant's discovery were misplaced," but another copy would be provided.[19]

Sex crimes allegations[edit]

During a raid of Schulte's Manhattan apartment on March 15, 2017, as well as at least one more on March 23, 2017,[20] federal agents confiscated approximately 60 electronic devices, including a desktop computer locked under three layers of encryption.[21]

On March 20, 2017, investigators returned to Schulte's apartment and asked for consent to search his cell phone. According to his counsel, "Schulte, in front of the agents, opened the phone, put in the password, handed it over to them to make sure that nothing on the phone could be destroyed or altered and handed it right to the authorities." Afterwards, through technical analysis, agents retrieved passwords from his cell phone that unlocked multiple layers of encryption on his desktop computer,[22] where investigators discovered a single classified document as well as over 10,000 images and videos depicting child pornography including "sadistic and masochistic images and videos of children as young as a few years old who had been brutally sexually assaulted." The government found that Schulte had "neatly organized" this material "according to his preferences, and stored it for a period of years."[20] In the government's view, there was "no set of circumstances that can confidently assure the Court that he's not going to continue to try to download child pornography, encourage others to download it and share it and just generally engage in very dangerous sexual activity."[4]

The government argued that Schulte was "both a flight risk and a danger to the community." Defense counsel countered that Schulte "had no basis of knowing if there's any alleged child pornography or had any reason to believe that he was in any way, shape or form in contact with any child pornography." The court concluded that Schulte's contention of being victimized by people who used his servers to store child pornography without his knowledge or consent "just doesn't seem likely" and ordered that he be detained.[4]

Three weeks later, on September 6, 2017, Schulte was indicted by a grand jury in the Southern District of New York on suspicion of receipt of child pornography, possession of child pornography, and transportation of child pornography.[23] A week later, Schulte entered a plea of not guilty,[21] and was released on bail two days afterward.

On November 15, 2017, the Loudoun County, Virginia Commonwealth's Attorney's Office determined that they had enough evidence based on pictures supplied by the FBI to charge Schulte with two crimes: object sexual penetration and the unlawful creation of an image of another. On December 7, 2017, at the request of the FBI, Schulte was arrested by NYPD officers in connection to the charges in Virginia.[24]

On December 14, 2017, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul A. Crotty revoked bail in New York and had Schulte remanded to the custody of the United States Marshal of the Southern District of New York.[25][26] Schulte has since been detained at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.[12]

Trial[edit]

Schulte's trial on charges of disclosing classified information to WikiLeaks, after allegedly stealing it from the secretive CIA unit where he worked, began in New York on February 4, 2020, with opening statements by the respective sides.[27] Federal prosecutors asserted that Schulte committed "the single biggest leak of classified national defense information in the history of the CIA" to take revenge on his former colleagues and bosses. Schulte's lead defense attorney, Sabrina Shroff, told jurors that her client was "a pain in the ass to everyone at the CIA," but argued that "Being a difficult employee does not make you a criminal." Schulte has pleaded not guilty to 11 criminal counts. The trial is expected to last several weeks.[27]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Scott Shane, Adam Goldman (15 May 2018). "Suspect Identified in C.I.A. Leak Was Charged, but Not for the Breach". Archived from the original on 20 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  2. ^ a b Harris, Shane (15 May 2018). "U.S. identifies suspect in major leak of CIA hacking tools". Archived from the original on 20 March 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  3. ^ Wolff, Josephine (June 20, 2018). "The Feds Love to Stack Charges When It Comes to Cybercrime". Slate. Archived from the original on June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  4. ^ a b c Southern District of New York (24 August 2017). "Court transcript Aug-24-2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  5. ^ Southern District of New York (24 August 2017). "Order of Detention Pending Trian Aug-24-2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  6. ^ Cleary, Tom (May 15, 2018). "Joshua Schulte: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Retrieved May 15, 2018.
  7. ^ Shane, Scott; Mazzetti, Mark; Rosenberg, Matthew (March 7, 2017). "WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents". The New York Times. Archived from the original on March 7, 2017. Retrieved March 7, 2017.
  8. ^ Greenberg, Andy (March 7, 2017). "How the CIA Can Hack Your Phone, PC, and TV (Says WikiLeaks)". Wired. Archived from the original on March 20, 2019. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  9. ^ Murdock, Jason (March 7, 2017). "Vault 7: CIA hacking tools were used to spy on iOS, Android and Samsung smart TVs". International Business Times. Archived from the original on April 9, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  10. ^ "WikiLeaks posts trove of CIA documents detailing mass hacking". CBS News. March 7, 2017. Archived from the original on March 19, 2017. Retrieved April 8, 2017.
  11. ^ Page, Carly (March 7, 2017). "Vault 7: Wikileaks reveals details of CIA's hacks of Android, iPhone Windows, Linux, MacOS, and even Samsung TVs". Computing. Archived from the original on April 12, 2019. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  12. ^ a b c Southern District of New York (31 October 2018). "Govt Letter to Judge Crotty Oct-31-2018" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  13. ^ Southern District of New York (21 May 2018). "Court transcript May-21-2018" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  14. ^ Southern District of New York (18 June 2018). "Superseding Indictment Jun-18-2018" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  15. ^ Southern District of New York (31 October 2018). "Superseding Indictment Oct-31-2018" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  16. ^ Southern District of New York (8 August 2018). "Court transcript Aug-08-2018" (PDF).
  17. ^ Southern District of New York (29 October 2018). "Court transcript Oct-29-2018" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 November 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  18. ^ Southern District of New York (12 December 2018). "Supplemental Protective Order Dec-12-2018" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  19. ^ Southern District of New York (12 February 2019). "Discovery Update MCC Misplaced Hard Drives Feb-12-2019" (PDF).
  20. ^ a b Poulsen, Kevin (May 16, 2018). "Exclusive: CIA 'Leaker' Josh Schulte Posted Agency Code Online—And CIA Never Noticed". Slate. Archived from the original on May 16, 2018. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  21. ^ a b Southern District of New York (13 September 2017). "Court transcript Sep-13-2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  22. ^ Southern District of New York (23 August 2017). "FBI Complaint Aug-23-2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  23. ^ Southern District of New York (6 September 2017). "Indictment Sep-06-2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  24. ^ Southern District of New York (7 December 2017). "Govt letter to Judge Crotty Dec-07-2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 11 April 2019. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  25. ^ Southern District of New York (14 December 2017). "Court Transcript Dec-14-2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  26. ^ Southern District of New York (14 December 2017). "Letter from Judge Crotty Dec-14-2017" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 17 December 2018. Retrieved 16 March 2019.
  27. ^ a b Harris, Shane (4 February 2020). "Trial begins for former CIA employee accused of leaking agency hacking tools". The Washington Post. Retrieved 5 February 2020.

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