A federal judge in New York on Monday declared a mistrial in the case of a former CIA software engineer who was accused of stealing a massive trove of the agency’s classified hacking and tools and leaking it to WikiLeaks whistleblower website.
While the jury was unable to reach a verdict on eight counts of the theft and transmission of CIA’s confidential documents, it did find ex-CIA Joshua Schulte guilty on two counts of contempt of court and making false statements to the FBI investigators.
Schulte’s lawyers last month asked the court for a mistrial in this case claiming the prosecutors withheld evidence that could exonerate his client during the four-week trial in the Manhattan federal court.
Potentially, as a result of this, jurors failed to reach a unanimous agreement on the most severe charges against Schulte after deliberating since last week.
Schulte, who designed hacking tools and malware for both the CIA and NSA to break into adversaries computers, was arrested in August 2017 and initially charged with possession and transportation of child pornography.
However, later in 2018, US prosecutors unveiled new charges against Schulte accusing him of stealing and leaking over 8,000 classified CIA documents to WikiLeaks, who then published the classified information under the name “Vault 7” leaks.
Vault 7 was the biggest leak of classified information in the intelligence agency’s history, which exposed CIA’s secret cyber-weapons and spying techniques that the United States government used to monitor or break into computers, mobile phones, televisions, webcams, video streams, and more networks worldwide.
The court will hold the next hearing later this month to discuss the next steps in the case. Meanwhile, Schulte will also go through a separate trial for the child-pornography case, where the charges have not been fully adjudicated, but carry a 20-year maximum sentence.
In a separate report published just last week, a Chinese cybersecurity company accused the CIA of being behind an 11-year-long hacking campaign that targeted several Chinese industries and government agencies.
Researchers also accused the CIA based upon the similarities between the tools and exploits leaked in the Vault 7 archive and the tools used on the cyberattacks.