Published: Wed, May 16, 2018
Worldwide | By Stella Potter

FBI Has Suspect in Damaging CIA Leak of Spying Code

FBI Has Suspect in Damaging CIA Leak of Spying Code

A former CIA software engineer is the prime suspect in the leaking of a stolen archive of spy agency's secrets past year, U.S. media have revealed.

The collection of 8,000 documents contained detailed information about network intrusion tools used by the CIA to gain intelligence (see 7 Facts: "Vault 7" CIA Hacking Tool Dump by WikiLeaks). Prosecutors, the Times also reports, plan to file a new indictment against Schulte that pertains to the leak, within 45 days.

"This case has been dragging since August 2017", Shroff told The Times.

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.

The FBI agents managed to obtain multiple computers, servers and storage devices from Schulte's home, including an "encrypted container, approximately 54 GB in size", which held the child pornography. The images were found during the initial search in March by agents suspecting him of involvement in the Central Intelligence Agency data breach. However, the search failed to turn up evidence prosecutors need to indict Schulte on the leaking charges, according to The Washington Post, which was first to report the news. In December 2017, however, he was again detained after allegedly violating his bail conditions.

Schulte, who has launched a Web page to raise money for his defense and post articles critical of the criminal-justice system, claims that he initially provided assistance to the FBI's investigation.

Schulte 29 worked at the CIA as a software engineer who helped design malware used to break into the computers of terrorism suspects and other targets. He left in 2016

Court documents suggest that Schulte was aware of the images and had warned one user not to "put anything too illegal on there".

Whoever leaked the information apparently sent it to WikiLeaks, where it was published under the name "Vault 7". According to an FBI affidavit, investigators obtained passwords from Schulte's phone and decrypted a 54 GB file stored on a virtual machine that allegedly contained 10,000 offensive images and videos.

Authorities appeared to piece together several bits of information to come up with the theory Schulte is responsible for the leak. Prosecutors say he had a cache of it on a server he maintained.

At January's pre-trial hearing for Schulte, Laroche said the material was taken from the CIA during the over six years that Schulte worked for the agency in various positions, including technical development officer.

At the time of the leaks a year ago, the CIA released a sombre statement: "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".

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