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Mistrial in CIA leak case

by on10 March 2020

Hung jury

A New York federal judge declared a mistrial on Monday after a jury failed to convict a former CIA programmer accused of passing the agency’s most valuable hacking tools to WikiLeaks.

The government had said that Joshua Schulte gave the anti-secrecy group the “Vault 7” collection of hacking tools, malware, viruses, trojans, and “zero day” exploits which comprised the CIA’s most valuable tools for tapping into adversaries’ computers.

After a four-week trial, the jury remained divided on whether there was proof that Schulte had in fact provided the files to WikiLeaks, and failed to convict him on the eight most serious charges in the case.

They did find him guilty on lesser charges of lying to the FBI and contempt of court.

Schulte was arrested in August 2017 and charged initially with multiple counts of possessing child pornography on his computer, with no suggestion that there was any national security issue involved.

Ten months later the Justice Department filed additional charges accusing him of stealing and transmitting classified “national defense information” to give it to WikiLeaks.

Schulte had already left the CIA when WikiLeaks published the information in March 2017, but testimony indicated that investigators quickly focused on him as the prime suspect.

But defence lawyers appeared successful, based on questions submitted by the jurors, in raising doubt over whether the government had proof it was Schulte who stole and transmitted the materials to WikiLeaks.

The judge, Paul Crotty, set a new conference for both sides in the case for March 26, in which the government could demand a new trial.

Last modified on 10 March 2020
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