A former CIA engineer was convicted on Wednesday on nine counts in a case that accused him of stealing classified government information.
Joshua Schulte is accused of taking secret government tools and leaking them to Wikileaks. The prosecution framed their case by accusing him of being a disgruntled employee. But they presented no forensic evidence that he had logged in to the tools or uploaded the files.
The theft in question is of something called Vault7. The vault is like an instruction manual for how the CIA can “hack into cars, smart TVs, web browsers, and the operating systems of Apple and Android phones and Windows, Mac, and Linux computers. Basically the motherlode,” according to Nicole Perlroth’s book.
Schulte said that the government pinned this on him because he was a difficult employee and because the timeline fit – there was a day in March when most of his coworkers were offsite and he was alone in the office. Schulte may have been a difficult person, in fact there is still a case against him for possession of child pornography for which he has plead not guilty. But he was not an Edward Snowden type. In fact, it came out at the trial that he is in the anti-Snowden camp.
Wednesday’s verdict was the second trial that Schulte faced for these charges. The first ended in a mistrial because the jury was deadlocked.
Schulte’s alleged thefts occurred shortly after the government was failing to contain leaks from the Shadow Brokers, a group that published terabytes of government spying tools for most of 2016. The CIA originally thought that the Vault7 leak was a Shadow Brokers job but the group did not take the credit. These tools embarrassed the government and showed just how deeply they can penetrate all of our communications.