Defendant’s New ‘Vault 7’ Spy Trial Moves to Jury Deliberations

Former CIA software programmer Joshua Schulte has asked jurors to dismiss charges against him in connection with a WikiLeaks post that revealed the agency’s ability to hack into Apple and Android cellphones.

MANHATTAN (CN) — Jurors in the retrial of the disgruntled former CIA coder accused of the biggest leak in the spy agency’s history heard closing arguments Thursday, more than two years after his first lawsuit largely collapsed at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Joshua Schulte was just 28 when he was arrested and charged under the Espionage Act nearly six months after WikiLeaks released the CIA’s classified cyber espionage tools in a March 7 document dump. 2017, dubbed “Vault 7″.

With over 7,000 pages, millions of lines of embedded computer code and several hundred attachments, the CIA’s trove of documents details how the agency uses malware to hack into iPhones, Android devices and smart TVs. Samsung of private consumers.

Federal prosecutors accused Schulte of using a backdoor password to access and disclose material from offline servers containing the CIA’s “best technical secrets” and then attempting to cover up his traces by manipulating and deleting digital logs of activity on sensitive CIA servers.

Now 33 and representing himself in the Southern District of New York, Schulte told jurors during his closing statement on Thursday that the government’s case was “riddled with reasonable doubts.”

Throughout his two-hour closing argument, Schulte insisted the prosecution presented no harsh ‘medico-legal artifacts’ during the three-week trial proving he was the culprit of the breach. from WikiLeaks.

Schulte said forensic logs from his CIA workstation showed that no external devices – needed to copy data from the offline server – had been connected. “No thumb drive, no removable drive, nothing,” he told jurors.

“Backups should be copied to a device to do so outside of the CIA,” Schulte said. “So what’s the government’s theory on which device the backups are copied to?” »

“They never tell you, they never tell me,” he added. “They still don’t have a theory.”

Schulte repeated his argument from the opening of the trial that he was singled out for investigation as a scapegoat for the agency’s embarrassment over the high-profile breach of its DevLAN server.

“The bottom line is this – because the system was not secure, because the system was poorly monitored, the government cannot know and certainly cannot prove to you which of the many people with access to this information committed this crime, when they committed it, or how they did it,” he said Thursday, urging jurors to consider biases that he said skewed the investigation.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Lockhard anticipated Schulte’s argument ahead of the defense’s final summary, deploying a bank robbery metaphor to debunk Schulte’s attack on the government’s lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. .

“It’s kind of like having security camera footage of the burglar going into the bank, getting a key to the safe, and then deleting the security footage from inside the safe,” Lockhard told reporters. jurors. “The fact that there are no images of what happened inside the safe is not proof that he did not enter it. It is the opposite The fact that he deleted those images is damning evidence that he went to the vault, and that’s what you have here.

Schulte faces two counts of allegedly broadcasting national defense information to a Washington Post reporter while in pretrial detention, which he called “equivalent to a sacrificial baseball bunt” and ” means for the government to kick a man while he is down”. .

Schulte wondered if the information he sent from prison was even classified or national defense information.

The government initially tried Schulte for the leak in 2020, but the month-long proceeding and extra week of verdict deliberations ended anticlimacticly with the jury deadlocked on the eight most pressing counts. serious about the theft and transmission of secret CIA documents. U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty declared a mistrial on March 9, 2020, although the jury found Schulte guilty of two minor counts, contempt of court and lying to the FBI.

The jury in Schulte’s retrial is on track to begin deliberations Friday morning after U.S. District Judge Jesse Furman instructed jurors on the charges.

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