Joshua Schulte: On Trial in NY

You’ll likely remember that Julian Assange has long believed that after WikiLeaks had published the CIA Vault 7 in 2017 was the date that brought the DoJ to put pedal-to-the-metal and charge him with 17 counts of espionage, and ‘persuade’ the London Police to drag him out of the Ecuadorian Embassy on April 12, 2019.  The po-po also stole all his electronic belongings and turned them over to the US DoJ, partially in the quest to discover who the Leaker was.

There was indeed speculation that if Schulte were to offer any defense close to ‘Assange made me do it!’, he’d be offered immunity from prosecution for his testimony.

31-yearold Schulte has pled not guilty to 11 charges, including alleged violations of the Espionage Act, the “theft of government property” and “illegal transmission of unlawfully possessed national defense information.”

‘Alleged WikiLeaks whistleblower Joshua Schulte on trial in New York’, Oscar Grenfell, 15 February 2020, wsws.org   (a few bits and bobs w/ permission):

Grenfell describes the proceedings as the same sort of Kangaroo Court Julian will face if he’s indeed extradited to the US.  He cites the fact that the papers of record seem to have boycotted the proceedings, even as US prosecutors have stated that they constituted the “the single biggest leak of classified national defense information in the history of the CIA.”

“If Schulte is convicted, it may also aid the attempts of the US Department of Justice to concoct further charges against Assange, on the grounds that he violated US “national security.”

Dubbed Vault 7, the documents detailed the activities of a secret division within the CIA responsible for offensive hacking operations. They reveal the agency as the biggest purveyor of malicious computer viruses in the world.

Among the most explosive revelations were documents showing that the CIA division would, after hacking into a computer system, leave tell-tale markers in foreign languages including Iranian and Russian. This pointed to the way in which supposedly forensic evidence of such things as “Russian interference” in the 2016 US election could be manufactured by the CIA.

The trove demonstrated that the CIA had developed capabilities to hack household appliances, including smart TVs, so that they could be used to spy on their owner. It contained evidence of even more sinister operations. One document showed that the division was seeking to develop the capacity to remotely take control of the computer operating systems of modern cars. Such capabilities could be used for assassination operations.

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Schulte’s Manhattan apartment was raided several times, beginning on March 15, 2017. This was just weeks after WikiLeaks had begun publishing Vault 7. Schulte had left the CIA in November 2016, after a series of rancorous disputes with colleagues. He was not charged with any offense relating to CIA leaks until June, 2018, over a year after he was first raided. Instead, he was indicted in November 2017 on child pornography charges, which provided the initial basis for him to be held in federal custody.

The discovery of the material supposedly took place during the course of police examinations of Schulte’s computers taken during the raids. He has pled not guilty to those offenses, with his defence noting that the material was allegedly on servers to which at least a dozen people had access.

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Schulte also faces a series of other charges, for supposedly disseminating classified information during his initial period of incarceration. This included allegedly providing information to family members about the US government’s actions against him, and the publication of Facebook posts detailing the ordeal of the police raids and his incarceration.

The government alleges that Schulte conducted what he described as an “information war” against it using contraband smartphones. It claims that this took place while he was being held in the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

Those charges are of a piece with a broader assault on Schulte’s legal rights in the name of protecting “national security.” In April 2019, Sabrina Shroff, Schulte’s defence lawyer, stated that the CIA was reviewing the alleged whistleblowers’ correspondence with her before it was posted. She said that the “CIA essentially has threatened us” with the prospect of legal action if Schulte’s defence lawyers were in possession of classified material.

The trial is thus being held in a climate of intimidation.

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Schroff stated that Schulte had been selected to take the fall because of his many conflicts with colleagues at the CIA, and the fact that he was widely disliked. She said that the CIA and the FBI still did not know how the documents had been taken out of the agency’s system or transmitted to WikiLeaks. The CIA and the prosecutors were “trying to work backwards” from the publication of Vault 7 but could not prove that Schulte had been involved.

Schroff also argued that the CIA’s DEVLAN computer system, on which the documents were stored, was not secure. She argued that there were many parties, inside and outside the CIA, who could have been responsible for the leak. She noted that WikiLeaks did not begin publishing Vault 7 until roughly a year after the US government alleges that Schulte leaked the material to the organisation. Schroff stated that it was unlikely that WikiLeaks would “sit on” a “major scoop” for almost 12 months.

The opening submissions raised many questions, but the trial, like all “national security” cases, is being held under a shroud of secrecy. A slew of CIA agents are slated to testify against Schulte under conditions of anonymity.

Extraordinarily, the prosecution successfully demanded that the defence be barred from researching the CIA witnesses in any way that could link them to the agency. As Schroff has argued, this is a major obstacle to the defence exercising its right to conduct an independent investigation into prosecution witnesses.

The defence has limited access to official CIA documents. One, prepared by the CIA WikiLeaks Task Force (impact assessment) stated: “We are making educated assumptions about the scope and timing of the loss, in part because we lacked effective monitoring and auditing of this mission system.”

This would appear to cast grave doubt on the government case against Schulte. His lawyers have received no response to their inquiries about when the document was prepared, by whom and upon what its conclusions were based. A substantial section is redacted and has not been provided to the defence.

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Schulte’s trial is yet more evidence of the need to mobilise workers, students and young people to block Assange’s extradition from Britain to the US in the lead-up to [phase 1] court hearings on February 24.”

OTOH, and if you give a fig: ‘Joshua Schulte’s Human Graymail Campaign Targets Mike Pompeo’ Marcy Wheeler, emptywheel.net, February 13, 2020

““Graymail” is a term used to describe when a defendant attempts to make a prosecution involving classified information too difficult for the government to pursue by demanding reams of classified evidence that the government either has to water down to make admissible at trial or argue is not helpful to the defense.

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It has been clear for some time that accused Vault 7 leaker Joshua Schulte was employing such a strategy, but with a twist. He obviously has been trying to release as much classified information from the CIA as possible, both through legitimate means and via leaking it. But starting last fall, there was a dispute about how Schulte could serve trial subpoenas on CIA witnesses and whether he had to work through prosecutors to do so; Schulte argued the government was trying to learn his defensive strategy by vetting his subpoenas.

The dispute just surfaced again in the form of a government motion in limine to exclude 3 CIA witnesses and require Schulte to provide justifications for a slew of other CIA witnesses he has subpoenaed. At least 63 CIA witnesses have informed the CIA that he has subpoenaed them, and that’s just the ones who have informed the agency.” and so on.

Dissenter Weekly: Alleged ‘Vault 7’ Leaker On Trial, Interior Department Whistleblower Reinstated’, kevin gosztola, Shadowproof, (arrg: 28 mins).

(cross-posted at caucus99percent.com)

 

 

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