Suspect identified in Central Intelligence Agency hacking methods leak

A man walks across the seal of the Central Intelligence Agency in the lobby of CIA headquarters in McLean Virginia.                        Alex Wong Getty Images

The identity of the suspected Vault 7 leaker, which detailed the capabilities of USA intelligence agencies to manipulate everyday technologies, was revealed to be 29-year-old Joshua Schulte, a former CIA software engineer who designed malware that could break into the computers of suspected terrorists, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

The Vault 7 leaks, touted by WikiLeaks as the biggest dump of Central Intelligence Agency secrets, ended in September previous year.

The breach, known as Vault 7, was the largest loss of classified documents in the agency's history.

It is noted that despite the long months of investigation, prosecutors have been unable to charge him.

The child pornography charges, according to the NYT, stem from material investigators found on a server Schulte created as a business in 2009 while he was a student at the University of Texas.

Weaver added that the fact the leak could happen was more significant as it came well after NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden released masses of documents about the agency's surveillance of American citizens in 2013. The transcript quotes a prosecutor saying that, once investigators searched Shulte's home, they "immediately had enough evidence to establish that he was a target of that [Vault 7] investigation".

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

"This is CIA's Edward Snowden", former CIA acting director Michael Morrell told CBS News Justice correspondent Jeff Pegues previous year, referring to the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked millions of documents in 2013.

Joshua Adam Schulte, who has worked for technical directorates at National Security Agency and the CIA, was charged with child pornography possession in August 2017.

The CIA declined to comment.

He also said that because of 'unfortunate circumstances the Federal Bureau of Investigation ultimately made the snap judgement that (he) was guilty of the leaks and targeted (him)'. The former prosecutor, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an open investigation, also said that if government lawyers acknowledged in a public hearing that Schulte was a target, they probably suspect he acted alone.

Schulte said he had also been planning a vacation with his brother to Cancun, Mexico, which may have given the appearance that he was trying to flee the country.

'This case has been dragging since August 2017, ' she told the Times in an interview. He was in the CIA for the development of a computer code to the intelligence of foreign adversaries.

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