Defense: Solitary unjust for ex-CIA employee awaiting trial

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NEW YORK (AP) — A New York judge should order a former CIA employee removed from solitary confinement because it was unconstitutionally imposed and hurts his chance at a fair trial, defense lawyers say.

Assistant Federal Defender Sabrina Shroff and three other defense lawyers made the arguments on behalf of Joshua Adam Schulte in papers signed by Shroff on Thursday and filed publicly late Friday in Manhattan federal court.

Schulte is awaiting trial on charges he leaked classified information that was disclosed publicly by WikiLeaks in March 2017. The New York City man has also been charged with leaking classified national defense materials while incarcerated.

He has pleaded not guilty to the charges pertaining to the leak of classified materials, along with child pornography crimes he was alleged to have committed.

Schulte, who has been in the most restrictive detention conditions since October, is being punished by the government, Shroff wrote.

The defense lawyers cited studies showing that anxiety and panic are common side effects and sometimes mirror the effects of torture by resulting in depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, hallucinations, paranoia, claustrophobia and suicide.

In the submission, the lawyers included an Oct. 26 letter in which the acting director of the U.S. Bureau of Prisons said special conditions of incarceration were placed on Schulte in part because he repeatedly violated court orders meant to protect national security and ongoing investigations.

The official, Hugh Hurwitz, said that while incarcerated, Schulte had made at least three unauthorized disclosures of classified information, including releasing the identities of current CIA officers, some of whom are undercover.

Hurwitz also cited a handwritten 138-page bail application that was briefly posted publicly last June before defense lawyers and prosecutors complained and got it sealed. The official said a subsequent classification review determined that the motion contained classified information.

Hurwitz also said Schulte had sent a copy of his handwritten bail application to a Texas attorney and Schulte's parents and had arranged for at least two cellphones to be smuggled into the Metropolitan Correction Center so he and another inmate could use them.

In the written submission, Shroff disputed Hurwitz's claims. She said the bail application was not made public by her client.

Shroff said the record does not support claims that Schulte disclosed classified information or that he identified undercover officers.

"Rather, he was careful not to disclose potentially classified information. He began the call by confirming that he would not discuss any classified information, and when asked for first names of certain individuals at the CIA, Mr. Schulte did not provide their names," she wrote.

A spokesman for prosecutors said the government had no comment.

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