United States names suspect in Vault 7 leaks, but unable to file charges

John A. Schulte is facing a child pornography charge but is also accused of leaking classified CIA documents to Wiki Leaks last year

John A. Schulte is facing a child pornography charge but is also accused of leaking classified CIA documents to Wiki Leaks last year

USA government officials are looking into a former CIA employee for his possible role in leaking a trove of the agency's cyber espionage tools to WikiLeaks.

"This is CIA's Edward Snowden", former CIA acting director Michael Morrell told CBS News Justice correspondent Jeff Pegues a year ago, referring to the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked millions of documents in 2013. In March 2017, the officials were already smarting from an unprecedented leak of National Security Agency software exploits seven months earlier by a mysterious group calling itself the Shadow Brokers.

The disclosure constituted one of the largest breaches of classified.

The Washington Post first reported on Schulte's relation to the case.

He is suspected of passing classified information to the WikiLeaks website.

An assistant United States attorney, Matthew Larouche, claimed during a court hearing in January that "the government immediately had enough evidence" to investigate Schulte as a suspect in the Vault 7 leaks. That includes the fact they he is believed to have used software called Tor, which allows users to communicate and transmit information over the Internet anonymously, and the fact he was planning a vacation to Cancun, Mexico.

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

On Tuesday, The Washington Post reported that officials also suspect he had provided Wikileaks with massive amounts of data in the "Vault 7 leak", which was published by the worldwide organization last March.

He was then tossed back in jail in December after prosecutors found evidence that he had broken those rules, and he has been held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan since then, according to the paper's report. He has pleaded not guilty in that case.

So how did Schulte wind up facing charges relating to child pornography? Prosecutors, meanwhile, said in court last week that they plan to file a new indictment in the next 45 days. "In April or May of 2017, the government had full access to his computers and his phone, and they found the child pornography in this case, but what they didn't find was any connection to the WikiLeaks investigation", Kaplan said. Anywhere from 50 to 100 people had the ability to access the server, Schulte argued, implying the pornography could have been put there by someone else, The Washington Post reported.

At the time of the leaks past year, 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". However, during a court hearing in January, attorneys revealed that Schulte was also the target of a federal investigation into whether he had shared classified material from the Central Intelligence Agency with WikiLeaks. No charges have been filed against Schulte in that investigation, and his defence lawyers have insisted he was not involved. He left the agency in November 2016 and moved to NY to work for Bloomberg L.P.as a software engineer.

Spokesmen for the C.I.A. and the Justice Department declined to comment.

Latest News