Former CIA employee suspected in Vault 7 leak to Wikileaks

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

The Federal Bureau of Investigation suspects that a former Central Intelligence Agency employee separately charged with possessing child pornography had a role in the unauthorized release of a trove of CIA hacking tools to the WikiLeaks website past year, according to a court transcript. The anti-secrecy group published the code under the label "Vault 7" in March 2017.

An assistant U.S. 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.

The leak of the CIA code was damaging because it gave away secrets of how the agency uses cyberweapons to spy on overseas targets. Schulte's attorney didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"This case has been dragging since August 2017", Sabrina Shroff, Schulte's lawyer, told the outlet.

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Schulte worked for five months at the NSA and then for over six years at the Central Intelligence Agency before leaving in November 2016 to work at Bloomberg as a software engineer, according to his LinkedIn profile. Schulte's attorneys have said that Tor is used for all kinds of communications and have maintained that he played no role in the Vault 7 leaks.

So far federal prosecutors haven't charged Schulte for crimes stemming from the incident.

In August a year ago, 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. The NYT said that court papers quote messages that suggest Schulte knew of encrypted images on his computer showing children being molested by adults. During his time at CIA, Schulte was employed at National Clandestine Service (NCS) as a Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) Intelligence Officer. The statement said he later reported "incompetent management and bureaucracy" at the CIA to the agency's inspector general and a congressional oversight committee.

In a statement to the Post, Schulte proclaimed his innocence. This, he alleges, made him appear as a disgruntled employee when he left the spy agency in 2016.

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He also said that because of 'unfortunate circumstances the Federal Bureau of Investigation ultimately made the snap judgement that (he) was guilty of the leaks and targeted (him)'.

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.

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. And I would disagree with the defense counsel's characterization that those search warrants haven't yielded anything that is consistent with his involvement in that disclosure.

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