Suspect identified in CIA hacking methods leak

By Daniel Uria  |  May 15, 2018 at 7:24 PM
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May 15 (UPI) -- The U.S. government has identified a suspect accused of leaking a stolen archive of secret CIA documents regarding the agency's hacking operations.

Joshua A. Schulte, a 29-year-old former CIA software engineer, is believed to have provided the agency's top-secret information to WikiLeaks, federal prosecutors said in a hearing in January.

Schulte worked in the CIA's Engineering Development Group, which produced malware used to break into the computers of terrorism suspects and other targets.

The data dump, which WikiLeaks referred to as "Vault 7," contained 7,818 Web pages and 943 attachments and included more than several hundred million lines of code, providing "the entire hacking capacity of the CIA."

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

FBI agents searched Schulte's New York apartment a week after WikiLeaks released the documents in March 2017 and seized his passport to prevent him from traveling to Mexico on vacation.

Authorities gathered personal computer equipment, notebooks and handwritten notes in the raid, but he wasn't charged in the breach.

Assistant U.S. attorney Matthew Laroche said despite the lack of an indictment, Shulte "remains a target" of an ongoing investigation.

Laroche added part of the investigation was to determine whether technology known as Tor, which allows Internet users to hide their location, was used to transmit classified information.

Prosecutors said Schulte used Tor at his apartment but didn't provide evidence to suggest he did so in order to disclose classified information.

In August, Schulte was charged with possessing child pornography after agents found 10,000 illicit images on a server he maintained while in college in 2009. Schulte said 50 to 100 people had access to the server, designed to share movies and other files.

He was released in September under the conditions that he avoid computers and not leave New York, but was jailed again in December after prosecutors said he violated those conditions. Schulte has since been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

Schulte said he reported security vulnerabilities and "incompetent management and bureaucracy" at the CIA to his superior, the inspector general and a House intelligence committee staff member before leaving the CIA in 2016.

He said the complaints made him appear to be a disgruntled employee and a planned vacation to Mexico with his brother gave the impression he was trying to flee the country.

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

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Topics: Wikileaks, Google
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