Former CIA engineer, 29, facing a child pornography charge is also suspected of leaking devastating secret agency documents to Wikileaks
16 May, 2018, 09:33
Schulte worked in the CIA's Engineering Development Group, which produced malware used to break into the computers of terrorism suspects and other targets. Public court documents show that investigators obtained a warrant to search Schulte's residence in NY back on March 13, 2017, about a week after WikiLeaks had publicly released the first batch of stolen Central Intelligence Agency tools.
No charges have been filed against Schulte and his defense lawyers have insisted he was not involved.
When Schulte's apartment was searched, a week after the first Vault 7 dump on 7 March, the search warrant application said he was suspected of "distribution of national defence information".
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.
But the prosecutor, Matthew Laroche, an assistant US attorney in the Southern District of NY, said that the government has not brought an indictment, that the investigation "is ongoing" and that Schulte "remains a target of that investigation", according to a court transcript of the January 8 hearing that escaped public notice at the time. Hopefully more information will come out. The leak also led to security researchers finding cases of the tools actively infecting governments and companies since at least 2011. The NYT said that court papers quote messages that suggest Schulte knew of encrypted images on his computer showing children being molested by adults.
Schulte, 29, has pleaded not guilty to the child pornography charges.
Prosecutors said in court last week that they plan to file a new indictment in the next 45 days.
"This is CIA's Edward Snowden", former CIA acting director Michael Morrell told CBS News Justice correspondent Jeff Pegues past year, referring to the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked millions of documents in 2013.
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)'.
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.
It's unclear why Schulte has not been charged or cleared in the breach.
Schulte was arrested in August, but prosecutors have been unable to bring charges against him.