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Ex-CIA Worker Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison

Joshua Schulte was found guilty of espionage, possession of child sexual abuse material
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 2, 2024 9:41 AM CST
Ex-CIA Worker Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison
In this courtroom sketch, Joshua Schulte, center, is seated at the defense table flanked by his attorneys during jury deliberations, March 4, 2020, in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

The man behind the biggest data breach in CIA history is going to spend decades in prison after being convicted of crimes including espionage and possession of child sexual abuse images and videos. Joshua Schulte was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison Thursday, more than five years after he was charged with stealing classified national defense information and giving it to WikiLeaks, the Guardian reports. His conviction last year for possessing what the FBI calls "horrific child pornographic material" involving children as young as two years old followed a 2022 conviction for espionage and computer hacking, among other charges. Schulte, 35, has been held without bail since his arrest in 2018.

Prosecutors said Schulte, who was employed as a software developer in the Center for Cyber Intelligence from 2012 until he quit in late 2016, leaked stolen files after feuding with management and a co-worker, CNN reports. The leak "profoundly damaged the CIA's ability to collect foreign intelligence against America's adversaries; placed CIA personnel, programs, and assets directly at risk; and cost the CIA hundreds of millions of dollars," prosecutors said. After he was behind bars, Schulte plotted to use contraband cell phones "to publish a manifesto and various other postings containing classified information about CIA cyber techniques and cyber tools," prosecutors said.

Prosecutors had sought a life sentence for Schulte. He "betrayed his country by committing some of the most brazen, heinous crimes of espionage in American history," US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement. "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," Williams said. "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." (More CIA stories.)

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