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CIA Vault 7 Whistleblower Hit With New Leaking Charges

© AP Photo / Carolyn KasterThis April 13, 2016 file photo shows the seal of the Central Intelligence Agency at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia.
This April 13, 2016 file photo shows the seal of the Central Intelligence Agency at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia. - Sputnik International
On Wednesday, federal prosecutors filed a rewritten indictment against the 30-year-old man said to be behind the largest leak of classified information in the history of the Central Intelligence Agency - Joshua Schulte, who allegedly gave WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange the material for the “Vault 7” releases.

The news comes just hours after a letter from Schulte to the judge presiding over his case pleading for something to be done about the conditions he faces in pre-trial detention. Between being cut off from access to legal counsel and shoved into the "box" at a notorious prison for unspecified reasons, Schulte described the conditions as "unconstitutional."

Schulte was arrested in August 2017 after allegedly leaking more than 8,000 CIA documents to WikiLeaks, which were published in March of that year. Initially, Schulte was not charged for anything related to that matter, but for child pornography.

It wasn't until June of 2018 that a 13-count superseding indictment was issued against him, alleging theft of classified national defense information. 

One of the most renowned whistleblowers in CIA history, John Kiriakou, said Schulte may face a difficult road back to good graces in the public eye. Kiriakou is a 15-year CIA veteran who blew the whistle on the agency's unconstitutional "enhanced interrogation" program, also known as torture. He also hosts a show on Radio Sputnik called Loud & Clear.

"I believe that the Justice Department learned a lesson during the Obama administration whereby whistleblowers had great public sympathy once they were charged," Kiriakou told Sputnik News.

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"That sympathy often lead to acquittals, such as in the case of NSA's Thomas Drake, or short sentences, like in my case. What the Justice Department has done to mitigate that is too frequently add child pornography charges to new cases. We saw this in the case of Matthew DeHart and now in the case of the Vault 7 whistleblower. In the DeHart case, the judge acknowledged that there was no evidence of child pornography. None," he said.

"I would not be surprised if the same thing happened in Vault 7," Kiriakou noted.

So why is the government so interested in getting Schulte? Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern told Sputnik News that it's all about the subject of the leak. "Julian Assange called it a ‘bigger revelation' than all the stuff that came from Ed Snowden," McGovern said.

"The tool that they call Marble Framework," McGovern said, "destroys this story about Russian hacking."

"What happened there was really significant, because that Marble Framework, by the CIA's own admission, enabled this CIA division to hack into computers or servers, disguise who hacked in, leave tell-tale signs like cyrillic," McGovern said, noting that 13 days after the revelation, Mike Pompeo "as head of the CIA, gets up and says, ‘You know, this WikiLeaks fellow Julian Assange is a demon,' and not only that, but he's ‘running a non-state hostile intelligence agency.'"

An alternative theory to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) hack coming from the CIA, pushed by the CIA-funded cybersecurity firm FireEye's spokesperson, is that the Russians "wanted experts and policymakers to know that Russia is behind it." FireEye is one of the few organizations to forensically analyze the DNC servers.

Hours after a letter written by Schulte to the judge presiding over his case was revealed online, prosecutors issued a new indictment against him. The government accused him of continuing to leak classified information in jail. Prosecutors say he passed off national defense secrets.

Schulte's letter to Judge Paul Crotty reads, in part:

"I am writing to you because I have been unable to contact my attorney, review my discovery, or even assist on my case in any capacity for the entire month of October. This is outrageous and clearly unconstitutional."

"On Monday, October 1, I was called down for a legal visit. When I arrived, I was told I was going to the ‘box' for an indeterminate amount of time while they investigated me for something they refused to tell me. So I was handcuffed in prison and led away in chairs to the notoriously inhumane torture chamber that is MCC's 9 South."

"My fellow slaves constantly scream, pound and claw at their cages attempting to get attention for basic needs fulfilled. I've witnessed men dragged from their cages and beaten and maced. An officer even uncuffed an inmate and told him to fight away from the cameras. Abuse runs rampant."

"This is true cruel and unusual punishment. If you would disagree then I beg you come and witness for yourself what the UN Human Rights Board has condemned and denounced as detestable, inhumane and un-American: the s**t-filled showers where you leave dirtier than you entered; the flood of the tiers and cages with ice-cold water; the constant blast of cold air as we are exposed to extreme cold without blankets or long-sleeve shirts; the uncontrollable lights that are always on as we are sleep deprived."

"I was strip searched and my cell was raided early in the morning on my birthday. Coincidence? Or birthday gift from the government?"

"How is it I should be subjected to this? Terrorists receive better treatment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba — I have seen the footage myself."

"I beg you Judge Crotty to read the first search warrant affidavit and the government's Brady letter; the FBI outright lied in that affidavit and now acknowledges roughly half of those lies."

Kevin Gosztola, a journalist who focuses on prisons and whistleblowers, told Sputnik News he has heard of inmate abuse at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC), where Schulte is detained, though not at South 9, the unit he is in. "I'm aware that there's another part of the facility called 10 South that's been described when people share their stories of solitary confinement. His letter describes very vividly what is going on, and there's probably very little reason to believe that he is making this up."

"We know that it's harsh. We know that the New York Times, for example, has profiled this and even described this facility as something comparable to Guantanamo Bay in its harshness," Gosztola said. 

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"Part of restricting people like this is intent upon ensuring that they do not talk about what they saw while they were in the CIA, that they don't share other classified information that they might know, other sensitive details about what was going on in government," Gosztola said.

"This isolation is to prevent him from talking."

According to a former special monitor on torture and punishment at the United Nations, the brutal conditions of solitary confinement at the "10 South" unit at the facility are a "punitive measure that is unworthy of the United States as a civilized democracy." Schulte is at 9 South.

"If they had the goods on him, why wait 15 months? They're gonna try to find someone to pin it on just to say that you can't do this thing," McGovern said.

"Am I saying that the FBI will lie? Yes."

"It seems clear that Schulte had extra reasons for them to rough him up… and to subject him to cruel and inhumane punishment. Habeas corpus has gone out the window; he's been held for over a year, and they won't tell him what charges they really want to bring against him," McGovern said. "They doubtless have these special compartments for people who are accused of things like Schulte."

"I think that there's there's an element of the system that truly pressures you into situations where you want to take a plea agreement and not go to trial," Gosztola told Sputnik News. "And so, I think with Schulte, he's got the case that involves WikiLeaks, he's got the case involving what he allegedly leaked, but then he's also got these other charges that stem from what agents say they found on his computer. He faces a child pornography charge; he faces other offenses. And this kind of pressure is, you know, 'We don't want you to go to court and challenge us.'"

McGovern was arrested years ago at an event held by former General David Petraeus. He was taken to central booking at One Police Plaza in New York City, a hold facility colloquially known as "The Tombs," which is at the same compound as the Metropolitan Correctional Center. 

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"It is a horrid place," McGovern said of central booking. "You're treated like dirt. I can't say I was singled out for extra lousy treatment because it was a very egalitarian treatment we got. It was awful."

"You can't lay down" because of the seating McGovern said, and "there are roaches and stuff."

"I hadn't even been arraigned," McGovern said, "in comparison to Schulte, all I can confirm is this is one hell hole."

You don't end up in 9 South or 10 South by accident, Gosztola said. "His [Schulte's] case is something that has been given broad publicity by media. And so the Bureau of Prisons marks your case. We know that in other cases when you've had leakers or whistleblowers, your case is marked because they know you have broad publicity. The case of John Kiriakou was marked because he was receiving broad publicity. The case of Reality Winner was marked, and now that she was moved to where she will be in prison in Texas, they know that she received broad publicity for her case."

"This is what happened — and seems to be happening increasingly. We saw this with Reality Winner being in a pretrial detention in a county jail in Georgia for over a year when other leakers had been allowed to be free," Gosztola said. "And so now in this case, there's something about Josh that the government has decided is dangerous to them, or they want us to believe he's dangerous, so they have kept him in a cell, and now, as he's describing, these are horrid conditions."

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