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U.S. Identifies in the Leak of CIA Hacking Tools, Still Unable to Charge Him
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15 May 2018 10:50 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Seal of the Central Intelligence Agency (Image source: Public Domain)


After an investigation lasting many months, the U.S. government is finally ready to identify the suspect who leaked much of the CIA's computer hacking tools last year. These cyber-tools were used by the intelligence agency for spying overseas, according to what is known. However, they are still unable to bring charges against him.

Joshua Adam Schulte is a former CIA employee and is currently being held on unrelated charges in a Manhattan jail. He worked for a branch of the CIA that designs computer code  for espionage on foreign entities. It's believed that he provided the agency's secret knowledge to WikiLeaks, who in turn labeled it "Vault 7" and published it in March 2017, charged federal prosecutors at a January hearing. 

It's thought that this leak has the potential to cause even more of an impact than Edward Snowden's efforts. While he showed the spying that the U.S. is capable of on computers and phones, Schulte actually showed how the U.S. goes about spying on its adversaries.

His New York apartment was searched by federal authorities last year, with them taking his personal computer equipment, notebooks, and handwritten notes, according to a search warrant. Yet it still wasn't enough evidence to indict him with illegally giving information to WikiLeaks.

Government prosecutor, Matthew Laroche, an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, disagreed with Schulte's attorney's "characterization" that "those search warrants haven't yielded anything that is consistent with [Schulte's] involvement in that disclosure." 

Laroche instead stated at the January 8 hearing that they have not brought an indictment in what is an "ongoing" investigation and that the suspect "remains a target of that investigation."

One thing being investigated, according to Laroche, is whether Tor, a technology that allows Internet users to hide their location, "was used in transmitting classified information."

Prosecutors have noted in other hearings that Schulte used Tor at his New York apartment, but they don't have any evidence to show he used it to expose classified information. His attorneys have said that Tor is used for many different types of communication and that he did not take part in the Vault 7 leaks.

Schulte is currently sitting in a Manhattan jail and has pleaded not guilty to charges of possession, receiving, and transporting child pornography, as indicated on a September indictment.

A large cache of child pornography was found by prosecutors on a server that Schulte maintained, according to documents. He has argued that from 50 to 100 people had access to the server that he designed to share movies and other digital files.

In a statement by Schulte that The Washington Post reviewed, he stated that he first worked for the NSA, then joined the CIA, leaving in 2016 to work in the private sector. He claims he joined the intelligence community out of a sense of patriotic duty after 9-11.

He contends he reported the "incompetent management and bureaucracy" at the CIA to both the agency's inspector general and a congressional oversight committee and believe they then began to see him as a disgruntled employee. When he left the CIA, they saw him as "the only one to have recently departed [the CIA engineering group] on poor terms," he claims.

While it may have appeared that he was trying to flee the country, Schulte says he was planning a vacation to Cancun, Mexico, with his brother.

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