A man convicted of carrying out one of the most damaging data breaches in CIA history — the public disclosure of secret hacking tools — was sentenced Thursday to 40 years in federal prison, prosecutors said.
In Manhattan, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Damian Williams said Thursday that Schulte committed treason.
“He did unprecedented damage to our national security in retaliation against the CIA for responding to security breaches during Schulte’s tenure there,” Williams said in the statement after sentencing.
Prosecutors asked for a life sentence.
Schulte, who left the CIA in 2016, “is on trial for some of the most egregious, brazen violations of the Espionage Act in American history,” prosecutors said. judgment letter added to the judge that he stole “an arsenal of highly sensitive intelligence-gathering cyber tools” from the CIA and turned them over to WikiLeaks, which in 2017 “leaked it to America’s enemies.”
The defense had asked for nine years saying Schulte said he was “constantly tortured” during the six years he spent in prison after his arrest, calling him a “bright, kind young man” whose crimes “represent unusual behavior in a law-abiding life.”
Schulte’s lawyer, Cesar de Castro, said they were hoping for a lighter sentence, but that 40 years was not enough.
“We are very disappointed that Mr. Schulte received a 40-year sentence, but we are relieved that he did not receive a life sentence, as the government strongly requested,” he said.
One letter In court, CIA Deputy Director David Cohen called the leak “one of the largest unauthorized disclosures of classified information in the history of the United States” and said it “caused exceptionally serious damage to the national security of the United States.”
He said the leak “directly put CIA personnel, programs and assets at risk.”
Evidence at trial showed that Schulte worked for an elite CIA hacking unit, was dissatisfied with his workplace, and leaked the material in an attempt to spitefully retaliate against his colleagues.
After his capture, prosecutors say, Schulte declared what he called “my information war” and “attempted to release even more classified information from prison in flagrant disregard of numerous warnings and court orders.”
Before and after his arrest, prosecutors say, “Schulte cultivated a sordid private mindset by amassing and viewing a large collection of child sexual abuse materials.”
The US attorney’s office found nearly 3,400 images and videos of “disturbing and horrifying” depictions of child sexual abuse. They are among other images hidden under layers of encryption on a personal computer, the US attorney’s office said.
The prosecutor’s office said that Schulte will be released on life supervision after the prison term.