Joshua Schulte, a former CIA employee charged in connection with leaking classified hacking tools to WikiLeaks, will be shackled and subjected to strip searches if he wishes to view classified material related to the government’s case against him, a court ordered Thursday.
The conditions appear in a protective order requested by federal prosecutors in Manhattan, where the former CIA computer engineer is being held awaiting trial for espionage.
The government has prepared a sensitive compartmented information facility, or SCIF, in which Mr. Schulte and his attorney can visit to review classified information concerning his case, prosecutors wrote in a filing proposing the protective order.
“The Defendant will be in full restraints during the time he is in the SCIF and secured to a bolt in the floor. The defendant will be stripped searched after departing the SCIF at the conclusion of each session. The Defense attorney will sign a waiver of liability due to the fact he will be alone and in close proximity to the defendant,” the order said.
U.S. District Judge Paul A. Crotty authorized the order shortly after it was proposed Wednesday evening in Manhattan federal court.
Neither Mr. Schulte’s legal team nor representatives at the Department of Justice immediately returned messages seeking comment on the conditions.
Mr. Schulte was charged in June 2018 with violating the U.S. Espionage Act, among other statutes, in connection with allegedly stealing and disseminating national defense information.
WikiLeaks is not named by prosecutors in federal court filings, but defense lawyers previously said Mr. Schulte is suspected of being the source responsible for leaking a trove of classified hacking tools published by the website in 2017 under the label “Vault 7.”
More recently, Mr. Schulte was charged last month on two new counts alleging he leaked additional material while in custody using at least one smuggled cellphone and several email and social media accounts.
He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
The Department of Justice announced an investigation into WikiLeaks in 2010 in response to the site’s publication of classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents, and multiple outlets reported last month that federal prosecutors have secretly filed charges against the website’s founder, Julian Assange.
The Justice Department has refused to confirm or deny the existence of any investigation into Mr. Assange as recently as a filing entered earlier this week in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia, where a group representing journalists’ interests has asked a federal judge to compel prosecutors to unseal any charges pending against the WikiLeaks publisher.
“If the public court record/docket does not contain charges against a particular individual, there are two possibilities: 1) the person is not charged; or 2) the person is charged under seal,” U.S. Attorney G. Zachary Terwilliger responded Tuesday. “In either event, the government is not required to publicly acknowledge which of those two possibilities happens to be the case with respect to any individual.”
WikiLeaks, meanwhile, cited the conditions imposed on the site’s suspected source as a reason to be wary of its publisher being potentially put on trial.
“How would the US treat Assange? Consider the treatment today of his alleged CIA whistleblower source, held without bail in New York, facing 160 years, ordered ‘bolted to the floor’, ‘in full restraints’ and ‘stripped search’ to prepare his defense,” WikiLeaks said on Twitter.