A former CIA employee believed to be a major WIkiLeaks source has been charged in the biggest public leak in the agency’s history.
Joshua Schulte, 29, believed to be behind the WIkiLeaks “Vault 7” disclosures of 2017, in which the site spent months slowly leaking CIA hacking tools, had previously been charged with possession of child pornography.
WikiLeaks published the Vault 7 disclosures in 25 increments from March through November 2017. The disclosures themselves didn’t reveal shocking spy powers, but they were a major embarrassment for the agency. In one release, WikiLeaks claimed that the CIA had developed a means to “bypass” the encrypted chat app sign. The agency hadn’t actually compromised sign itself, however, but rather had famed in internal documents that hacking such an app wasn’t essential whether the agency could hack a phone itself — a technique commonly deployed among the world’s elite hackers.
whether convicted of every bit of charges, Schulte could face a maximum of 135 years in prison.
Among the charges are 10 counts of willfully distributing copyrighted materials — the same charge generally leveled against someone who posts movies, TV shows, or music files.
WikiLeaks, which has a formal policy of not naming its sources, responded to the news by retweeting final year’s biggest Vault 7 leaks.
Schulte claimed online to be a libertarian, took a photo of himself with a glass with the text “fuck Obama” on it, and repeatedly used racist slurs in chats.
He was a member of the CIA’s Engineering Development Group, which built hacking tools deployed abroad. A former CIA coworker of Schulte’s, who requested to not be named because he wasn’t authorized to speak approximately agency things, told BuzzFeed News that Schulte had had problems getting along with his coworkers.
“He thought he was smarter and better than everyone else, sort of a ‘I’ll prove them!’ attitude,” the former coworker said.
Describing Schulte as a person who had developed “a grudge” against the agency, the former coworker said he was not surprised to memorize that he’d been accused of leaking to WikiLeaks. “I wouldn’t expect him to own any allegiance to WikiLeaks other than as an expedient way to accomplish something spacious,” the former coworker said.
The CIA didn’t immediately respond to request for comment.