Joshua Schulte, a former CIA officer, has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for leaking classified information to WikiLeaks and for possessing child abuse images. Schulte was found guilty of releasing the CIA’s “Vault 7” hacking tools, which could hack into smartphones and use them as listening devices, marking the largest data breach in the agency’s history. This breach was described by prosecutors as one of the most “brazen” acts of espionage in U.S. history, with Schulte’s actions leading to significant national security damages.
Schulte’s conviction came after three separate federal trials in New York between 2020 and 2023, where he faced charges including espionage, computer hacking, and making false statements to the FBI. The leaks caused considerable harm to the CIA’s intelligence-gathering capabilities and exposed sensitive operations. Despite Schulte’s denials and attempts to defend his actions, evidence presented at the trial portrayed him as motivated by revenge against his employers due to workplace disputes. Following the leak, extensive damage was inflicted on the CIA’s operations, costing the agency hundreds of millions of dollars.