Feds Identify Suspect in CIA Hacking Tools 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

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 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.

A government prosecutor disagreed with what he called the "characterization" by Schulte's attorney that "those search warrants haven't yielded anything that is consistent with [Schulte's] involvement in that disclosure". It was then a series of unlucky coincidences, he said, that led the government to focus in on him as a suspect in the leak investigation.

In August previous year, authorities filed child pornography charges against Schulte, who is in a jail in Manhattan, after claiming to have found 10,000 illicit images on a server that he had set up in 2009 while studying at the University of Texas in Austin. Still, the article said, Schulte advised one user, "Just don't put anything too illegal on there".

The report says that, while the government thinks Schulte was the one who handed the cache of documents over to WikiLeaks, they do not now have enough evidence to bring charges.

In documents, prosecutors allege that they found a large cache of child pornography on a server that was maintained by Schulte.

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Schulte has pleaded not guilty to the child porn charges and stated that anywhere from 50 to 100 people had access to the server he'd created in 2009 as a way to share movies and other digital files, according to the publication. He was in the CIA for the development of a computer code to the intelligence of foreign adversaries.

The imprisoned software engineer told the outlet in a statement that he'd been blamed for the leaks because he'd reported "incompetent management and bureaucracy" at the Central Intelligence Agency to the inspector general. According to Schulte's LinkedIn page, he also worked for the US National Security Agency as a system engineer, prior to his time at the CIA.

It is noted that despite the long months of investigation, prosecutors have been unable to charge him. The documents themselves covered a period from 2013 to 2016, when Schulte had been employed at the agency.

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

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. His defense lawyers earlier insisted he was not involved in the theft.

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