Joshua Schulte, a former CIA employee accused of supplying the WikiLeaks website with a trove of classified intelligence revealing the agency’s hacking capabilities, was indicted on related counts Monday nearly 10 months since first being taken into custody.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have filed a 13-count superseding indictment charging Mr. Schulte, 29, with crimes including felony computer hacking and Espionage Act violations related to allegedly stealing and disseminating national defense information.
The Department of Justice refrained from naming WikiLeaks in the filing, but Mr. Schulte’s alleged conduct and his lawyer’s previous comments indicate he’s accused of leaking CIA hacking tools published by the antisecrecy organization last year under the label “Vault 7.”
“Schulte utterly betrayed this nation and downright violated his victims,” said William F. Sweeney Jr., the FBI’s assistant director-in-charge. “As an employee of the CIA, Schulte took an oath to protect this country, but he blatantly endangered it by the transmission of Classified Information,” he said in a statement Monday.
A former CIA software engineer, Mr. Schulte was arrested last August and indicted on three counts of child pornography. He pleaded not guilty in September and was freed on bail, but he violated the terms of his release and has been subsequently jailed since December.
“While the current indictment charges Mr. Schulte with child pornography, this case comes out of a much broader perspective,” defense attorney Jacob Kaplan said during a January bail hearing. “In March of 2017, there was the WikiLeaks leak, where 8,000 CIA documents were leaked on the Internet. The FBI believed that Mr. Schulte was involved in that leak.”
The superseding indictment reiterates the original three child porn charges and adds nine new counts related to the CIA leak and Mr. Schulte’s alleged efforts to thwart investigators.
In addition to supposedly classified data and giving it to WikiLeaks, Mr. Schulte also allegedly lied to FBI agents investigating the breach and obstructed justice, according to the new indictment; a thirteenth count, meanwhile, accuses Mr. Schulte of violating federal copyright law by maintain an internet server that hosted copyrighted movies, television shows and audio records.
Mr. Schulte is scheduled to be re-arraigned Wednesday afternoon before U.S. Judge Paul A. Crotty in Manhattan federal court.
WikiLeaks referred media inquiries to Sabrina Shroff, Mr. Shulte’s public defender in New York.
“As the evidence is flushed out, it will become clear that Mr. Schulte is hardly the villain the government makes him out to be,” Ms. Shroff said in a statement.
Released during the course of several months starting last March, “Vault 7” consisted of classified material demonstrating the CIA’s ability to conduct offensive hacking operations
“The American public should be deeply trouble by any WikiLeaks disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community’s ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries,” the CIA said a the time. “Such disclosures not only jeopardize U.S. personnel and operations, but also equip our adversaries with tools and information to do us harm.”