A federal court judge pushed back proceedings Friday in the government’s longstanding criminal case against Joshua Adam Schulte, a former CIA engineer suspected of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks.
Senior U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Crotty agreed to postpone a status conference in the Schulte case previously scheduled for Aug. 3 in light of defense layers recently asking for an adjournment.
The conference has been rescheduled for Oct. 17, per the judge’s order, indicating Schulte’s yearslong legal saga is unlikely to come to a conclusion anytime soon.
Schulte was charged in September 2017 with counts of child pornography, pleaded not guilty and was released on bail. His bail was revoked two months later, however, and he has been in federal custody ever since.
The Justice Department eventually charged Schulte in June 2018 with several counts stemming from allegedly providing the website WikiLeaks with classified CIA material it had published the previous year.
Schulte was tried earlier this year in Manhattan on the leak charges, but his jury deadlocked on most counts and Judge Crotty, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, declared a mistrial.
A federal grand jury subsequently returned a new indictment last month reiterating its criminal case against Schulte, and the Justice Department has said it wants to proceed with a retrial as soon as possible.
But in a letter filed in Manhattan federal court Thursday, Schulte’s lawyers said they are unprepared at this point and asked for a two-week adjournment. Judge Cotty gave them closer to two months.
In their letter, defense lawyers Edward S. Zas, Sabrina P. Schroff and Deborah A. Colson said they are still working on addressing issues raised by the latest indictment, among other obstacles.
Steve Bellovin, a computer science professor who served as a technical expert for Schulte’s legal team during the last trial, “declines to undertake the risk associated with returning to New York City” amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, the lawyers wrote.
“We understand that the Chief Judge for the Southern District of New York has or is preparing a protocol for prioritizing and scheduling jury trials and it remains uncertain as to how trials are being scheduled. While the government has stated it is trial ready on this case, the defense faces different challenges. Given the due process concerns these issues raise, we are not able to tell the court when we will be ready for trial,” Schulte’s lawyers wrote.
Schulte, 31, currently faces nine counts related to allegedly leaking classified information, including charges of illegally accessing, gathering and transmitting national defense information, obstruction, accessing a computer without authorization and transmitting a harmful computer code.
In addition to being suspected of leaking classified CIA hacking tools published by WikiLeaks in 2017, Schulte is suspected of also leaking sensitive information about his case to reporters while in custody awaiting trial. He has not yet been tried on the child porn charges.