U.S. names suspect in Vault 7 leaks, but unable to file charges

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 identity of the suspected Vault 7 leaker, which detailed the capabilities of United States intelligence agencies to manipulate everyday technologies, was revealed to be 29-year-old Joshua Schulte, a former CIA software engineer who designed malware that could break into the computers of suspected terrorists, the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.

Whoever leaked the information apparently sent it to WikiLeaks, where it was published under the name "Vault 7".

The breach, known as Vault 7, was the largest loss of classified documents in the agency's history.

It is unclear why he has not been charged or cleared in connection with the theft and subsequent leak.

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. However, prosecutors have publicly revealed Schulte to be a key suspect in the Vault 7 leaks after seizing computer equipment, notebooks and handwritten notes from his apartment.

Schulte is reportedly being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.

He has plead not guilty to the charges.

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Federal authorities believe Joshua Adam Schulte, who worked in the CIA's Engineering Development Group and is now in custody in NY awaiting trial for unrelated child pornography charges, was behind the "Vault 7" leaks of top-secret Central Intelligence Agency information to WikiLeaks. 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.

He said the complaints made him appear to be a disgruntled employee and a planned vacation to Mexico with his brother gave the impression he was trying to flee the country.

No charges have been filed against Schulte and his defense lawyers have insisted he was not involved.

"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.

Prosecutors said they plan to file a new indictment by July.

Schulte was arrested in August, but prosecutors have been unable to bring charges against him. He worked in the CIA's Engineering Development Group which designed the hacking tools used by its Centre for Cyber Intelligence.

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".

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