NEW YORK, N.Y. – A former CIA employee pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to charges he stole classified information about the agency’s hacking abilities and gave it to WikiLeaks.
For the CIA, the case against Joshua Adam Schulte has become an embarrassing and damaging episode known as the “Vault 7” leak.
The jailed Schulte was wearing ankle shackles when he appeared in federal court in Manhattan to face espionage charges contained in an indictment unsealed earlier this week.
The indictment alleges that in March and June of 2016, he altered a CIA computer system to grant himself access to the system and allow him to delete records of his activities and deny others access. The stolen information that WikiLeaks ultimately posted last year revealed how the agency would hack Apple and Android cellphones in overseas spying operations.
Around the time of the leak, the FBI raided 29-year-old Schulte’s New York City apartment and seized multiple computers. He was later arrested and initially held on child pornography charges.
Prosecutors have asked Schulte to waive his right to have his case tried in Virginia, where the alleged theft occurred at a CIA facility. A judge gave him until Monday to decide after he indicated through his lawyer that he wanted more time to think about it.
Schulte could get decades behind bars if convicted. His lawyer has said he’s “hardly the villain that the government tries to make him out to be.”