19:14 GMT06 August 2020
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    The identity of the suspected Vault 7 leaker, which detailed the capabilities of US 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.

    There's one problem, though: investigators haven't been able to collect enough evidence to file charges against Schulte despite having searched his apartment and confiscated his personal computer and notes.

    According to the New York Times, FBI agents obtained a warrant to search Schulte's apartment in March 2017, a week after WikiLeaks released the first batch of Vault 7 documents, which highlighted how the CIA tapped into iPhones and smart TVs and turned them into surveillance devices.

    Instead of charging Schulte for the leak, prosecutors ended up charging him in August 2017 with possessing, receiving and transporting child pornography after investigators stated they'd found porn content on a server he'd created in 2009. Though he was released a month later in September, Schulte wound up back behind bars by December after violating the rules of his release.

    "Those search warrants haven't yielded anything that is consistent with [Schulte's] involvement in that disclosure," Matthew Laroche, an assistant US attorney in the Southern District of New York, said in a January hearing regarding the Vault 7 case.

    The Post reported Laroche saying at the time that the investigation was still "ongoing" and that the CIA employee was still a "target."

    Schulte has pleaded not guilty to the child porn charges and stated that anywhere from 50 to 100 people had access to the server he'd created in 2009 as a way to share movies and other digital files, according to the publication.

    The imprisoned software engineer told the outlet in a statement that he'd been blamed for the leaks because he'd reported "incompetent management and bureaucracy" at the CIA to the inspector general. This, he alleges, made him appear as a disgruntled employee when he left the spy agency in 2016.

    "Due to these unfortunate coincidences the FBI ultimately made the snap judgement that I was guilty of the leaks and targeted me," Schulte told the Post for the story published Tuesday.

    With Schulte's lawyers demanding prosecutors come to a decision on Vault 7 charges, officials indicated last week that they'd be filing a new indictment in the next 45 days, the Times stated.

    "This case has been dragging since August 2017," Sabrina Shroff, Schulte's lawyer, told the outlet. "The government should be required to indict so Mr. Schulte has the opportunity to defend himself. Otherwise he is just languishing."

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


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    Vault 7, CIA, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States
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