- The Washington Times
Thursday, May 20, 2021

Joshua Adam Schulte, a former CIA employee awaiting retrial for allegedly leaking classified information, has asked a judge to order jailers to stop intercepting and delaying mail from his lawyers.

Mr. Schulte, who stands accused of illegally sharing CIA hacking tools later published by the website WikiLeaks, requested the relief in a handwritten three-page letter docketed in his case Wednesday.

Addressed to U.S. District Judge Paul A. Cotty, the letter was filed in Manhattan federal court with a copy of an envelope that had contained mail addressed to Mr. Schulte from his defense team.

The envelope, postmarked March 25, lists Mr. Schulte‘s lawyers in the return address section and has a printed message in the center saying “SPECIAL MAIL” and “OPEN ONLY IN THE PRESENCE OF INMATE.”

Mr. Schulte said he did not receive the letter until May 5, more than 40 days after it was postmarked, and that it was opened in the interim, evidenced by other messages on the outside of the envelope.

Despite being marked as coming from defense lawyers for Mr. Schulte, the other messages on the envelope indicate the mail was designated “general correspondence” and consequently opened and inspected.

Mr. Schulte said that past letters from his lawyers also have taken more than a month to reach him at the Metropolitan Correctional Center (MCC) in Manhattan, where he has been jailed since 2017.

Lawyers defending Mr. Schulte have previously accused the FBI of intercepting and deliberately delaying legal mail and other correspondence meant for their client while he prepares for trial.

Mr. Schulte is subject to restrictions on his incarceration known as Special Administrative Measures, or SAMs, which his lawyers have said include allowing the FBI to read all his incoming mail. 

Judge Crotty, an appointee of former President George W. Bush, was asked in January to relax the SAMs imposed on Mr. Schulte, but he said the proper vehicle for relief would be a separate civil suit.

The defense lawyers subsequently filed another motion in March requesting the court reconsider their concerns, and Judge Crotty has not weighed in more than two months later, Mr. Schulte noted.

“I ask this court for a ruling on that motion, because otherwise it is essentially pocket-vetoed with no way for me to appeal, and the MCC will continue to delay my legal mail for 40+ day and give it to the FBI, as well as torture me in unconstitutional conditions of confinement,” Mr. Schulte wrote.

In addition to SAMs affecting his access to legal mail, Mr. Schulte asked in his jailhouse letter for the judge to rule on a host of other restrictions he considers to be unconstitutional.

“My motion for reconsideration is still outstanding; in addition to the illegal opening and delay of my legal mail, I also ask for relief from torture including the ban of ALL books and the institution’s library, the ban of looking outside, the ban of outside recreation, the ban of arbitrary commissary items such as Cheerios, sleep deprivation through constant cage lighting, toilets that do not flush, no heat or AC, filth, among countless others,” wrote Mr. Schulte.

“These conditions of confinement are only applied to SAM inmates, and the conditions violate both the Fifth and Eighth Amendment because the conditions are arbitrary, with no legitimate penological interest and impose cruel and unusual punishment,” Mr. Schulte wrote.

The court had not filed a response to Mr. Schulte‘s letter as of late Thursday afternoon. Mr. Schulte said he may ask the 2nd Circuit to force the court to address his complaints.

Mr. Schulte, 32, is accused of violating the U.S. Espionage Act by allegedly providing WikiLeaks with material including the source codes for secret CIA hacking tools released by the website in 2017.

The government previously argued its case against Mr. Schulte in court in 2020, but a jury deadlocked on most of the counts and a mistrial was declared. He was indicted again on those counts in June. 

Mr. Schulte‘s retrial is scheduled to start Oct. 25 at the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

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