Former CIA engineer claims he is being held as an animal

A former CIA software engineer accused of leaking government secrets to WikiLeaks denounced the incarceration conditions, calling them cruel and unusual punishment, locked in an infested cell in a prison unit where inmates are treated like “caged animals.”

Joshua Schulte, 32, asked a federal judge in Manhattan to force the Federal Bureau of Prisons to improve the conditions of the Metropolitan Correctional Center where he has been detained for more than two years under highly restrictive conditions usually reserved for accused of terrorism.

In official documents released Tuesday, Schulte says he is being held in conditions “inferior to those of the poor in third world countries.”

“It is barbaric and inhumane to lock human beings in boxes for years and years, it is a punishment worse than death,” the documents stipulate.

A message seeking comment was sent to the Bureau of Prisons and the Department of Justice.

Last year, a jury could not agree on whether to prosecute Schulte for stealing CIA data to hand over to Wikileaks. He was convicted of lesser charges of contempt of court and making false statements.

He has another trial on espionage charges scheduled for June, for what is considered the largest secret data leak in CIA history. After that, he faces another trial on child pornography charges.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In his early 20s, Schulte, a native of Lubbock, Texas, was working as a coder at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, where digital detectives developed computer code to spy on foreign adversaries.

The so-called Vault 7 leak, published in March 2017 by WikiLeaks, revealed how the CIA hacked Apple and Android smartphones in overseas spy operations and attempts to turn internet-connected televisions into listening devices.

After a year-long investigation, investigators charged Schulte, who had already left the agency after fighting with colleagues and supervisors, and had moved to New York City to work at a news agency.