- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Joshua Adam Schulte, a former CIA engineer accused of leaking agency secrets, asked a federal court judge Tuesday for relief from prison conditions his lawyers allege to be unconstitutional.

Lawyers for Mr. Schulte, who is suspected of sharing CIA tools published by the WikiLeaks website in 2017, entered a court filing raising several concerns about their client’s ongoing detainment.

Mr. Schulte, 32, has been held in the solitary confinement wing of the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City since October 2018, his lawyers wrote in a petition for writ of habeas corpus.

During that span, the public defenders wrote, Mr. Schulte has been subjected to Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs, they described as “abhorrent, unconscionable, cruel and unusual punishment.”

“SAMs inmates are locked in concrete boxes the size of parking spaces with purposefully obstructed views of outside, the cages are filthy and infested with rodents, rodent droppings, cockroaches and mold; there is no heating or air conditioning in the cages, there is no functioning plumbing, the lights burn brightly 24 hours per day, and the inmates are denied outside recreation, normal commissary, normal visitation, access to books and legal material, medical care and dental care,” Mr. Schulte‘s lawyers wrote in part of their petition.

“All attorney-client privilege is also void to SAMs inmates as the prison confiscates, opens, and reads all legal mail; inmates are forbidden from transferring legal material to and from their attorneys,” Mr. Schulte‘s lawyers added. “The process imposed is arbitrary and not tailored to any legitimate government interest, especially where the SAMs inmates are represented by institutional lawyers from the Criminal Justice Act Panel and the Federal Defenders of New York.”

Lawyers for Mr. Schulte have asked U.S. District Court Judge Paul A. Crotty to find MCC imposed unconstitutional conditions of confinement upon Mr. Schulte and order the prison to change its ways.

“There can be no question that the standard of living for SAMs inmates is below that of impoverished persons living in third world countries,” said public defenders Sabrina P. Shroff, Deborah Colson and Edward S. Zas. “It is barbaric and inhumane to lock human beings into boxes for years and years–it is a punishment worse than death and there is no wonder that MCC inmates would rather kill themselves than continue to live in absolute oppression.”

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York declined to comment on the court filing, and the Bureau of Prisons did not immediately respond to a message seeking its reaction.

Mr. Schulte is accused of sharing CIA hacking tools that were released online by WikiLeaks under the name “Vault 7.” He is also accused of illegally leaking details about his case to reporters.

The Department of Justice previously argued its case against Mr. Schulte in federal court early last year, but a jury deadlocked on most of the counts he faced, however, and a mistrial was declared.

Mr. Schulte was subsequently indicted again in June, paving the way for prosecutors to present their case in court once more. That retrial is currently scheduled to start in June 2021.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a 49-year-old Australian native, separately faces several felony charges related to releasing documents his site published years prior to the “Vault 7” disclosures.

Mr. Assange has been jailed in London since April 2019 pending the outcome of a high-stakes extradition battle involving the Aussie and the governments of the U.S. and U.K.

A British judge ruled earlier this month not to extradite Mr. Assange to the U.S., but the Justice Department appealed and he was subsequently ordered to remain in custody pending that challenge.

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