Former CIA man convicted in WikiLeaks case

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A former CIA software engineer has been convicted of handing classified information to WikiLeaks, in one of the biggest such thefts in the spy agency's history.

Jurors in Manhattan federal court convicted Joshua Schulte, 33, on eight espionage charges and one obstruction charge over the so-called Vault 7 leak.

Schulte had represented himself at the month-long trial.

The jury began deliberating on Friday. An earlier trial ended in March 2020, with jurors deadlocked on the main counts.

"Today, Schulte has been convicted for one of the most brazen and damaging acts of espionage in American history," undermining US efforts to battle "terrorist organisations and other malign influences" attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.

The leaked materials concerned software tools the Central Intelligence Agency used to surveil people outside the United States, through such means as compromising smartphones and internet-connected TVs.

WikiLeaks began publishing the leaked materials in March 2017.

The US Department of Justice said Schulte, who resigned from the CIA in November 2016, was motivated to leak the material out of spite, because he was unhappy with how management treated him.

Schulte countered he was framed and made a scapegoat for the leak because of his issues with management.

He was originally arrested in August 2017 on unrelated charges, and has been jailed since bail was revoked four months later.

The Justice Department announced in June 2018 the charges related to WikiLeaks.

Last month, Britain's home secretary Priti Patel approved the extradition of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the United States.

The 51-year-old Australian faces federal criminal charges in Virginia over his alleged role in publishing secret military documents in 2010.

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