Former CIA software engineer sentenced to 40 years on espionage and child pornography charges

Former CIA software engineer Joshua Adam Schulte was sentenced to 40 years on espionage and child pornography charges, the U.S. Department of Justice announced Thursday.

At trial, the CIA’s former deputy director of digital innovation categorized Schulte’s release of a trove of CIA secrets as a “digital Pearl Harbor,” and said the disclosure caused exceptionally grave harm to the national security of the U.S., a statement from the Justice Department said.

Schulte was convicted in July 2022 of eight federal charges stemming from accusations that he was behind the largest theft of classified information in CIA history. He was also convicted at separate trials on March 9, 2020, for contempt of court and making material false statements and on September 13, 2023, on child pornography charges.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said Schulte “caused untold damage to our national security in his quest for revenge against the CIA for its response to Schulte’s security breaches while employed there.”

Schulte was charged with stealing from classified national defense information, which came to light in March 2017 when WikiLeaks began releasing CIA hacking tools, The Associated Press reported. He stole the information in 2016 from the Eastern District of Virginia and elsewhere, a superseding indictment said.