Coder charged with leaking CIA hacking secrets to WikiLeaks says he’s being tortured in prison
A former CIA coder who allegedly gave files about the agency’s hacking tools to WikiLeaks claims he is being tortured in a Manhattan prison, where he is currently being held while awaiting trial for espionage.
In a letter to a New York judge, filed on Monday but later mysteriously removed from court records, Joshua Schulte claims he is being subjected to “torture” in Manhattan’s Metropolitan Correctional Center.
“Otto Warmbier received better treatment in North Korea that I have received in America,” Schulte’s letter reads. “Terrorists receive better treatment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba – I have seen the footage myself,” Schulte added.
Warmbier was detained in North Korea in 2016 for attempting to steal a propaganda poster. After allegedly being tortured in detention, Warmbier was returned to the US in a vegetative state in June 2017, where he died several days later.
The conditions described by Schulte are far from North Korean, but paint a grim picture of prison life nonetheless.
“My fellow slaves constantly scream, pound and claw at their cages attempting to get attention for basic needs to be fulfilled. I count myself lucky to be able to eat,” he wrote.
“The shit-filled showers where you leave dirtier than when you entered; the flooding 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...No human being should ever have to experience this torture.”
Schulte also claimed in the letter that he is being held in solitary confinement and being denied vital blood-pressure medication, and is having his mail deliveries and meetings with his lawyer withheld.
He was arrested on child pornography charges in August 2017 and was charged this June with felony hacking and with stealing and disseminating national defense information. The man is awaiting trial for both at the moment.
Schulte denies all the charges leveled against him, including the particularly heinous child pornography charges. Among the 54 gigabytes of videos prosecutors say they found on Schulte’s computer are clips depicting three-year-old children engaged in sex acts, and adult men raping toddlers.
I struggled if I would create a thread on this Defendant given the heinous nature of the crimes listed in the original 2017 Indictment JOSHUA ADAM SCHULTEOpen Source Linkhttps://t.co/YSiLdYtBTMcc @ninaandtito new motion filed 2 minutes ago pic.twitter.com/ouBUi4WinN— SpicyFiles (@SpicyFiles) June 19, 2018
While the indictment does not mention the party to whom Schulte allegedly leaked the documents, media speculation points to the former coder as being the source behind WikiLeaks’ “Vault 7,” a series of documents detailing the CIA’s hacking capabilities, including the agency’s ability to access mobile phones and Windows computers, record data, and turn the devices’ cameras and microphones on remotely.
Schulte’s defense team said during a bail hearing in January that the FBI believes their client is indeed Wikileaks’ source.
BREAKING: CIA turns Smart TVs, iPhones, gaming consoles and many other consumer gadgets into open microphones. #Vault7— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) March 7, 2017
With Schulte facing 135 years in prison, global affairs analyst Patrick Henningsen told RT that his prosecution was intended as a “message to whistleblowers.”
“This does send out a chilling message to any potential government whistleblowers that you will be pursued by the government and that under the letter of national security you have very little defense,” he said. “I don't think this is in the interest at all of the public.”
Schulte is not the only government whistleblower who claims to have suffered unduly in prison. Former US Army intelligence Private Chelsea (then Bradley) Manning spent almost a year on 23-hour lockdown in a windowless cell while she awaited trial in a Marine Corps brig in 2012-2013. A military judge ruled in 2013 that her punishment, which often included being stripped of her prison jumpsuit at night, was “excessive,” and removed 112 days from her sentence as compensation.
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