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Tuesday, 10 March 2020 09:52

Mistrial declared in case of man suspected of Vault 7 leaks

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Mistrial declared in case of man suspected of Vault 7 leaks Pixabay

A former CIA employee who was on trial for allegedly leaking details of exploits developed by the CIA to WikiLeaks has escaped conviction on all but two counts, with a federal jury in Manhattan deadlocked after a four-week trial and six days of what were described as chaotic deliberations.

The judge declared a mistrial as a result of the deadlock.

Joshua Schulte, who was being tried in connection with leaks that were known as Vault 7, the biggest leak in the history of the CIA, was found guilty of two counts: contempt of court and giving false statements to the FBI, according to The New York Times.

The Vault 7 exploits were released beginning in March 2017 and continued until September that year. In May 2018, the US named Schulte as a suspect in the theft but could not immediately charge him due to a lack of evidence.

A month later, he was charged on the following 13 counts:

  • Illegal gathering of national defence information;
  • Illegal transmission of lawfully possessed national defence information;
  • Illegal transmission of unlawfully possessed national defence information;
  • Unauthorised access to a computer to obtain classified information;
  • Theft of government property;
  • Unauthorised access of a computer to obtain information from a department or agency of the US;
  • Causing transmission of a harmful computer program, information, code or command;
  • Making false statements;
  • Obstruction of justice;
  • Receipt of child pornography;
  • Possession of child pornography;
  • Transportation of child pornography; and
  • Criminal copyright infringement.

Prosecutors said Schulte had stolen the information because his superiors did not take his complaints about the workplace seriously. Schulte left the CIA in November 2016 and joined Bloomberg as a software engineer.

The NYT said one juror was dropped because she researched the case and then told her fellow jury members what she had discovered. The 11 remaining jurors included one who refused to participate in deliberations, and yet another juror who characterised the discussions as a "horrible experience" after the whole process was over.

Schulte faces a separate trial on the issue of child pornography and the government has the option of re-trying the case.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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