Friday, 19 October, 2018

FBI Has Suspect in Damaging CIA Leak of Spying Code

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
Deanna Wagner | 16 May, 2018, 09:33

Here's where things get tricky: the government says it does not have enough evidence to charge Schulte with the leak. WikiLeaks began releasing them in March 2017.

Sabrina Shroff, a lawyer for Schulte, has repeatedly demanded that prosecutors either charge him or drop the case.

Federal Bureau of Investigation agents searched Schulte's NY apartment a week after WikiLeaks released the documents in March 2017 and seized his passport to prevent him from traveling to Mexico on vacation.

The embarrassing leaks - the largest data theft in the agency's history - included software that was created to take over iPhones and turn smart TVs into surveillance devices, the paper reported Tuesday.

"Those search warrants haven't yielded anything that is consistent with [Schulte's] involvement in that disclosure", said assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York Matthew Laroche. While it was embarrassing for the CIA to lose so many documents, the dump itself provided little in the way of juicy intel: mostly it just showed that, yes, the CIA engages in covert intelligence operations. 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. 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.

Prosecutors said they plan to file a new indictment by July. The documents themselves covered a period from 2013 to 2016, when Schulte had been employed at the agency. After quitting the CIA in November 2016 - according to Roger he had complained about security vulnerabilities at the agency - he joined Bloomberg as a software engineer.

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The CIA declined to comment.

According to the former Central Intelligence Agency engineer he had been planning a trip to Mexico with his brother around the time his apartment was searched, which may have given the appearance that he was trying to flee the country.

It's unclear why Schulte has not been charged or cleared in the breach. Following the search of his apartment in March 2017, prosecutors waited six months to bring the child pornography charges.

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.

Clarification: An earlier version of this report quoted Laroche as saying that "those search warrants haven't yielded anything that is consistent with [Schulte's] involvement in that disclosure".