The Federal Bureau of Investigation suspects that a former Central Intelligence Agency employee separately charged with possessing child pornography had a role in the unauthorized release of a trove of CIA hacking tools to the WikiLeaks website previous year, according to a court transcript.
The suspect was identified by The New York Times as Joshua A. Schulte, 29, a former CIA software engineer who designed malware that the spy agency used to hack into the computers of terror suspects.
Recall that in 2017, the website WikiLeaks published thousands of documents, allegedly belonging to the Center kiberrazvedki Central Intelligence Agency.
Authorities appeared to piece together several bits of information to come up with the theory Schulte is responsible for the leak.
Transcripts [PDF] from the case contains multiple references to searches related to the Vault 7 case.
Why federal investigators haven't formally charged Schulte for the leaking isn't clear.
Federal authorities searched Schulte's apartment in NY past year and obtained personal computer equipment, notebooks and handwritten notes, according to a copy of the search warrant reviewed by The Washington Post.
He is suspected of passing classified information to the WikiLeaks website.
A government prosecutor disagreed with what he called the "characterization" by Schulte's attorney that "those search warrants haven't yielded anything that is consistent with [Schulte's] involvement in that disclosure".
USA federal prosecutor Matthew Laroche detailed the investigation during a January 8, 2018 hearing in a NY federal courtroom.
Part of that investigation, Laroche said, was analyzing whether a technology known as Tor, which allows Internet users to hide their location, "was used in transmitting classified information".
Schulte is being held without bail on child pornography charges brought against him in Manhattan federal court.
He has plead not guilty to the charges.
In documents, prosecutors allege that they found a large cache of child pornography on a server that was maintained by Schulte. During his time at CIA, Schulte was employed at National Clandestine Service (NCS) as a Directorate of Science and Technology (DS&T) Intelligence Officer. The government immediately had enough evidence to establish that he was a target of that investigation.
According to the report, Schulte worked for the the CIA's engineering development group until 2016, a position that would have given him access to the thousands of agency documents that were handed over to WikiLeaks in 2017.
The CIA declined to comment.
Schulte said in the statement that he joined the intelligence community to fulfill what he saw as a patriotic duty to respond to the attacks of September 11, 2001.
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)'.
Since he's been jailed, Schulte has created a Facebook page where he posts articles criticizing the criminal justice system.