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Prime suspect in CIA ‘Vault 7’ hack still hasn’t been charged

Family says Joshua Schulte is a 'scapegoat' for the CIA's data bungle. Last year WikiLeaks published a ton of secret documents about the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) hacking capabilities. The breach -- the largest loss of classified documents in the agency's history -- revealed its far-reaching abilities to snoop on modern technology, including software designed to takeover smartphones and turn smart TVs into surveillance kit. Now, the prime suspect has been identified, but despite being in prison since August, has not been charged for his role in the breach, since referred to as Vault 7. In March last year, one week after WikiLeaks began publishing the documents, the FBI searched the apartment of Joshua Schulte, a 29-year-old former CIA software engineer. According to the search documents, Schulte was suspected of "distribution of national defense information". Officials retrieved NSA and CIA paperwork, plus a variety of electronics from the premises. They also confiscated his passport. Fast forward to August, and instead of charging Schulte with the breach, prosecutors charged him with possessing child pornography, claiming agents found 10,000 illegal images on a server he owned while at college in Texas in 2009. Schulte argues that up to 100 people had access to the server at the time, which was designed to share movies and digital files. He was released in September on the condition that he not leave New York City, but jailed again after he was found to have broken those rules. It's not clear why -- more than a year after the investigation started -- Schulte has neither been charged nor cleared in connection to Vault 7. An anonymous source told The Washington Post that the months Schulte has spent in jail do not necessarily mean the government's case has hit a wall, and that it's "not unusual" to hold a suspect in one crime on unrelated charges. But as Schulte's lawyer, Sabrina Shroff, said in an interview, "This case has been dragging since August 2017. The government should be required to indict so Mr Schulte has the opportunity to defend himself. Otherwise he is just languishing." When WikiLeaks began posting the documents last year, the CIA said in a statement that "the American public should be deeply troubled by any WikiLeaks disclosure designed to damage the Intelligence Community's ability to protect America against terrorists and other adversaries. " There is no doubt that Vault 7 has been a damning blow to the CIA's reputation, and many -- including Schulte's family -- believe Schulte has become a scapegoat for the CIA's failure to protect its most sensitive documents.

Ex-CIA employee ID’d but not charged in Vault 7 leak of hacking tools

WikiLeaks trove included exploits for iPhones, Wi-Fi routers, and Cisco Switches. Federal authorities have identified a suspect behind last years Vault 7 leak of Central Intelligence Agency hacking tools. The trove published to WikiLeaks included exploits and documents for infecting iPhones, Wi-Fi routers, and Cisco Switches, and it represented the biggest-known loss of classified information in CIA history. For reasons that are still unknown, Schulte hasnt been charged in the case despite being arrested more than a year ago. Instead, authorities charged him in August with possessing and transporting child pornography. He has pleaded not guilty in that case. His attorneys have also denied he had any involvement in the Vault 7 leak. On the whole, the Vault 7 disclosures are less damaging than their Shadow Brokers counterparts because the WikiLeaks dispatches havent included potent source code that could be repurposed. Still, the leak underscored the major problem US intelligence officials were having in securing their arsenal of hacking tools. The leak also led to security researchers finding cases of the tools actively infecting governments and companies since at least 2011. Schulte's LinkedIn profile shows that he worked as a systems engineer at the NSA for four months before taking a job as a software engineer in 2010 at the CIA, where he worked for six years. The profile shows he took a job at Bloomberg in November 2016. The child pornography charges, according to the NYT, stem from material investigators found on a server Schulte created as a business in 2009 while he was a student at the University of Texas. The hearing transcript also shows investigators found more than 10,000 images of child pornography on his computer, which was set up with several layers of encryption. The NYT said that court papers quote messages that suggest Schulte knew of encrypted images on his computer showing children being molested by adults. Still, the article said, Schulte advised one user, Just dont put anything too illegal on there. In a statement read by WaPo, Shulte said he joined the CIA to fulfill a patriotic mission to respond to the September 11 attacks of 2001. The statement said he later reported incompetent management and bureaucracy at the CIA to the agencys inspector general and a congressional oversight committee. The reports cast him as a disgruntled employee, and when he left the CIA in 2016, suspicion fell upon him as the only one to have recently departed [the CIA engineering group] on poor terms, the WaPo reported, citing the Schulte statement. Why prosecutors havent filed charges against Schulte remains unclear. The transcript quotes a prosecutor saying that, once investigators searched Shultes home, they immediately had enough evidence to establish that he was a target of that [Vault 7] investigation. Defense attorneys, the NYT said, have asked the court to impose a deadline on any charges that the government seeks to bring under the Espionage Act for supplying the secret CIA files to WikiLeaks. Prosecutors, meanwhile, said in court last week that they plan to file a new indictment in the next 45 days.