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    The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) logo is displayed in the lobby of CIA Headquarters in Langley, Virginia, on August 14, 2008

    CIA Coder Jailed for 'Vault 7' Leaks Complains of 'Cruel and Unusual' Punishment

    © AFP 2018 / SAUL LOEB
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    Joshua Adam Schulte, the 30-year-old former Central Intelligence Agency coder jailed in 2017 under the US Espionage Act for allegedly leaking 8,000 files to WikiLeaks, which were subsequently published under the auspices of 'Vault 7', claims he’s been made subject to solitary confinement under conditions amounting to "torture".

    The revelations come in a letter to US Judge Paul Crotty of the Southern District of New York, who in December 2017 revoked Schulte's pretrial release and ordered him to be remanded without bail, a decision upheld March this year by an Appeals court.

    "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 so I write to you for relief. On October 1 I was called down for a legal visit. When I arrived, I was told I was going to the ‘box' for an indeterminant 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," Schulte said.

    A computer screen shows a WikiLeaks logo (File)
    © AP Photo / Yves Logghe
    A computer screen shows a WikiLeaks logo (File)

    MCC (Metropolitan Correctional Center) staff are said to have subjected Schulte and other inmates in ‘9 South' — the prison segregation unit — to "cruel and unusual punishment". In particular, the accused former coder — who boasted a ‘top secret' clearance while at the CIA — complains of "shit-filled showers" which "leave [you] dirtier than when you entered", "flooding" of cages with "ice-cold water", being exposed to extreme cold "without blankets or long-sleeve shirts", "uncontrollable lights" that are "always on as we are sleep deprived". "No human being should ever have to experience this torture," he wrote.

    Moreover, since being placed in the "torture chamber", Schulte has been refused access to his legal papers and his lawyers, preventing him from constructing a fresh bid for release prior to his eventual trial.

    'Fellow Slaves'

    "My day here consists of nothing but attempted meditation. 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…I was strip searched and my cell was raided early in the morning on my birhday. Coincidence? Or birthday gift from the government? They will hold me in this hell forever while they do nothing. I am unconvicted. I am an American. I am a human being. How is it I should be subjected to this? Terrorists receive better treatment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba-I have seen the footage myself," Schulte despairs.

    In closing, the embattled coder asks Judge Crotty to order the Bureau of Prison "to give me back my legal work" and "access to the public defender phone to contact my lawyer during the day", as well as pens, papers, legal books, and access to medical support and blood pressure medication. He even goes so far as to argue the FBI "outright lied" in their search-warrant affidavits, and the Bureau is said to "now acknowledge roughly half" of these falsehoods.

    The files Schulte is said to have dislcosed to WikiLeaks were copied in 2016 from an internal Agency server, and documented a number of hacking tools used by CIA digital intrusion teams when conducting foreign surveillance. The US government still hasn't brought a case against Schulte over the leak though — and his lawyers have said dozens of staff had access to the server in question. In May, he was assigned a federal public defender after his private attorney dropped out, his family having spent most of their savings on legal fees.

    Internet users reading the international media project WikiLeaks. (File)
    © Sputnik / Iliya Pitalev
    Internet users reading the international media project WikiLeaks. (File)

    However, in addition to espionage, hacking, and related crimes, Schulte's federal indictment also charges him with possession of child pornography, due to images FBI agents apparently found on his hard drive while investigating the WikiLeaks dump.

    Schulte also faces charges in a sexual-assault case in Loudoun County, Virginia — the FBI claims to have found photos one of his phones, showing a woman "passed out on the floor" of his bathroom and being sexually assaulted. The unnamed woman has been referred to as Schulte's friend and former roommate, and he's charged with a felony count of object sexual penetration and a misdemeanor count of unlawful creation of an image of another.

    The Virginia case was the pretext for the revocation of Schulte's bail. Prosecutors also said he violated his release conditions by accessing his email and anonymous internet network TOR.

    Related:

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    Tags:
    leaks, Vault 7, WikiLeaks, coding, torture, FBI, Wikileaks, Guantanamo Bay, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), United States
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