Prosecutors say Joshua Schulte leaked classified information over a workplace dispute; he says he is being framed.
US prosecutors allege a former CIA coder shared classified information with the WikiLeaks website after a personal dispute with a colleague. The former coder, 33-year-old Joshua Schulte, has said he is being framed.
Schulte’s trial began Tuesday in a federal court in Manhattan, where he faces charges of obtaining classified U.S. government information without authorization and illegally passing that data on to WikiLeaks. His first trial, which took place in 2020, came to an end when the jury was deadlocked over the main charges.
Prosecutor David Denton said in his opening statement that in 2016, Schulte obtained software used by the CIA to target foreign countries, then sent that data to WikiLeaks, who posted it in 2017. WikiLeaks has become known for publishing classified US information on a range of topics, including possible war crimes in the US.
The Reuters news agency reported that Denton called Schulte’s alleged actions the “ultimate act of treason” and said he was motivated by resentment towards CIA management and other employees in his unit.
Schulte, who represents himself, has said the CIA and FBI have chosen him as the scapegoat for an embarrassing leak because of past disagreements with management. Schulte left the CIA in 2016.
“The CIA had to save face, they were under enormous political pressure to identify the leaker,” Schulte told the jurors.
“The FBI just worked backwards from me as their selected patsy.”
US District Judge Jesse Furman will oversee the trial, which is expected to last about five weeks and will include testimonies from clandestine CIA agents.