United States identifies suspect in major leak of Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools

  • United States identifies suspect in major leak of Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools

United States identifies suspect in major leak of Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools

The suspect was identified by The New York Times as Joshua A. Schulte, 29, a former CIA software engineer who designed malware that the spy agency used to hack into the computers of terror suspects. It was leaked on WikiLeaks.

At a January hearing on child pornography charges filed against Schulte, an assistant USA attorney in the Southern District of NY said the government conducted several search warrants on Schulte's home. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.

A week after the leak of the Vault 7 series in March 2017, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents searched Schulte's apartment in Manhattan, New York, and then stopped him from flying to Mexico, taking his passport. He instead faces charges of possession of child pornography.

Joshua Adam Schulte, 30, was arrested last August, not for the leak but on child pornography charges after he was accused of taking photos of a "passed out" friend as he sexually assaulted her on his bathroom floor.

Federal authorities searched Schulte's apartment in NY previous year and obtained personal computer equipment, notebooks and handwritten notes, according to a copy of the search warrant reviewed by The Washington Post.

Neither the CIA or the Justice Department have commented on Schulte's detainment but past year during the publication of WikiLeaks Vault 7 series a CIA spokesperson stated: "The American public should be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks disclosure created to damage the Intelligence Community's ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries".

In documents, prosecutors allege that they found a large cache of child pornography on a server that was maintained by Schulte. The statement said he later reported "incompetent management and bureaucracy" at the CIA to the agency's inspector general and a congressional oversight committee.

"Due to these unfortunate coincidences the Federal Bureau of Investigation ultimately made the snap judgment that I was guilty of the leaks and targeted me", he said.

Schulte, according to his LinkedIn profile, worked as a systems engineer specializing in high-speed passive signals intelligence for the NSA in 2010.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that officials also suspect he had provided Wikileaks with massive amounts of data in the "Vault 7 leak," which was published by the worldwide organization last March. The U.S. government has all but publicly acknowledged the embarrassing leak from the CIA's Center for Cyber Intelligence.

With more than 8,000 CIA documents published to date, according to a defense attorney at the January hearing, the Vault 7 series came as a major embarrassment to United States intelligence officials. The archive appears to have been circulated among former USA government hackers and contractors in an unauthorized manner, one of whom has provided WikiLeaks with portions of the archive.

The programs allowed the Central Intelligence Agency to tap into phones - Apple's iPhone, Google's Android and Microsoft's Windows - and Samsung smart TVs, WikiLeaks said.