Former CIA Worker Accused of Leaking Secrets Says He's Innocent

(Bloomberg) -- A former CIA worker accused of leaking classified national defense secrets asked a federal judge to free him on bail while he awaits trial, saying he is innocent and is being prosecuted for storing other people’s data.

Joshua Adam Schulte was indicted earlier this month by a federal grand jury in New York on charges including theft of government property and illegally gathering national defense information, almost 10 months after he was arrested for possession of child pornography.

On Wednesday, the 29-year-old Schulte asked U.S. District Judge Paul Crotty, in a 138-page handwritten bail application, to release him from federal custody. He said he’s an "entrepreneur being held criminally liable for the storage of other people’s data in an astounding assault on the free markets and technology."

In the application, Schulte says the evidence against him is "nearly non-existent" and that he had no idea that the "virtual machine" on his computer that housed an encrypted area with child pornography even existed. He said it was inaccessible by any device he owned. Prosecutors said federal agents who had been investigating the theft of classified material found child pornography on a desktop computer in Schulte’s New York City home.

Schulte says in the application that he is a "tech enthusiast" whose motivation for running servers and building an online programming community is "based on my fascination and love of technology -- not the incredulous lies and perversions the feds would have you believe."

‘American Patriot’

"The FBI, with reckless disregard for the truth and no oversight or accountability, have wrongfully attacked an American patriot who has served his country for years and even prevented terrorist attacks from this great city," Schulte wrote.

Schulte, who has pleaded not guilty, is accused of sending classified information to an organization that publicly disseminates such data. Prosecutors said the group, identified by the government as “Organization-1” released the information on March 7, 2017. That’s the same date WikiLeaks published thousands of documents under the name “Vault 7.”

The massive data dump was one of many embarrassing disclosures for the intelligence community from WikiLeaks, which the U.S. has cited as working with Russian government hackers in tampering with the 2016 presidential election. The documents describe agency efforts to hack mobile phones and even “smart TVs,” using methods they bought or developed, and stealing techniques and code from other nation-state hackers to hide their tracks.

Schulte worked at the National Security Agency from January to May 2010 and for the Central Intelligence Agency from May 2010 to November 2016. After he left the CIA, he worked briefly for Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News, leaving the company in March 2017.

The case is U.S. v Schulte, 17-cr-548, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan.)

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