• US identifies suspect in major leak of CIA hacking tools

US prosecutors have identified a suspect in last year's leak of CIA hacking tools, but have been unable to bring charges against him due to insufficient evidence.

Joshua Adam Schulte, who worked in the CIA’s Engineering Development Group tasked with designing computer code to spy on foreign adversaries, was behind the "Vault 7" leaks of top-secret CIA information, The Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Schulte, who is currently being held at a Manhattan jail in New York awaiting trial for unrelated charges, is believed to have provided the confidential data to WikiLeaks.

According to the Post, federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant in 2017 for personal computers and hand-written notes from his apartment, but no evidence linking Schulte to the disclosure was found.

“Those search warrants haven’t yielded anything that is consistent with [Schulte’s] involvement in that disclosure,” Assistant US Attorney Matthew Laroche reportedly told a court in January.

However, Laroche said the investigation “is ongoing” and that Schulte “remains a target of that investigation,” according to a court transcript of the Jan. 8 hearing that escaped public notice at the time.

Schulte said in a statement to the Post that he was innocent, arguing that the CIA targeted him because he was the only member of his team to leave the agency after reporting "incompetent management" to its inspector general.

“Due to these unfortunate coincidences the FBI ultimately made the snap judgment that I was guilty of the leaks and targeted me,” Schulte said.

He is in currently custody and has been charged with possessing, receiving and transporting child pornography, according to an indictment lodged in September. He has pleaded not guilty.

Some current and former intelligence officials believe that the Vault 7 disclosures could cause more damage than those done by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

During his tenure at NSA, Snowden downloaded tens of thousands of classified top secret US documents. They exposed the extent of US spying across the world, on friends and foes alike.

SS

May 16, 2018 13:44 UTC
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