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Suspect in Leak of CIA Hacking Tools Identified by U.S.

The US government has identified a suspect in the 2017 leak of a large portion of the Central Intelligence Agencys computer hacking arsenal, the cyber-tools the agency had used to conduct spying operations overseas, the media reported.

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Hacking (representative image), Pixabay

The US government has identified a suspect in the 2017 leak of a large portion of the Central Intelligence Agencys computer hacking arsenal, the cyber-tools the agency had used to conduct spying operations overseas, the media reported.

But despite months of investigation, prosecutors had been unable to bring charges against the 29-year-old man, who was identified on Tuesday as a former CIA employee being held in a Manhattan jail on unrelated charges, the Washington Post reported.

Joshua Adam Schulte, who worked in the CIA’s Engineering Development Group tasked with designing computer codes to spy on foreign adversaries, was behind the “Vault 7” leaks of top-secret CIA information, the daily said.

He is believed to have provided the confidential data to WikiLeaks.

According to the Post, federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant in 2017 for personal computers and hand-written notes from his apartment, but no evidence linking Schulte to the disclosure was found.

A government prosecutor disagreed with what he called the “characterisation” by Schulte’s attorney that “those search warrants haven’t yielded anything that is consistent with (Schulte’s) involvement in that disclosure”.

According to the Post, federal prosecutors obtained a search warrant in 2017 for personal computers and hand-written notes from his apartment, but no evidence linking Schulte to the disclosure was found.
U.S. Flag. Pixabay

But the prosecutor, Matthew Laroche, an assistant US attorney in New York, said that the government has not brought an indictment, and that the investigation “is ongoing” and Schulte “remains a target of that investigation,” according to a court transcript of the January 8 hearing that escaped public notice at the time.

Part of that investigation, Laroche said, was analysing whether a technology known as Tor, which allows Internet users to hide their location, “was used in transmitting classified information”.

Schulte said in a statement to the Post that he was innocent, arguing that the CIA targeted him because he was the only member of his team to leave the agency after reporting “incompetent management” to its inspector general.

“Due to these unfortunate coincidences the FBI ultimately made the snap judgment that I was guilty of the leaks and targeted me,” Schulte said.

He is currently in custody for “possessing, receiving and transporting child pornography”, according to an indictment lodged in September. He has pleaded not guilty.

Also Read: Black Box: A Chip That Makes Hacking Impossible

According to certain current and former intelligence officials the Vault 7 disclosures could cause more damage than those done by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

During his tenure at NSA, Snowden downloaded tens of thousands of classified top secret US documents. (IANS)

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U.S. President Donald Trump Suggests, Brazil Should be Able To Join The North Atlantic Treaty Alliance

Until now, Brazilian diplomacy was a zero-sum kind of relationship, not aligned with U.S. interests and "sort of hostile in certain ways, at least at the bureaucratic level"

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President Donald Trump greets Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro during a news conference in the Rose Garden of the White House, March 19, 2019. VOA

The leaders of the Western Hemisphere’s two largest economies are pledging closer trade ties and enhanced military cooperation, with U.S. President Donald Trump even suggesting Brazil should be able to join the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO).

Trump said for that to happen, however, he would “have to talk to a lot of people.”

The U.S. president, at a joint news conference with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, also pledged American support for Brazil to join the 36-member Organization for Cooperation and Economic Development (OECD), which includes most of the highly-developed economies.

Bolsonaro, speaking in Portuguese, said his visit begins a new chapter of cooperation between Brazil and the United States, adding that with his recent election, “Brazil has a president who is not anti-American, which is unprecedented in recent decades.”

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“All options are open,” Trump reiterated when asked by a reporter in the White House Rose Garden if military intervention in Venezuela by the United States is possible. VOA

The retired military officer is known as the “Trump of the Tropics” for his far-right agenda of cracking down on crime and corruption, and nostalgia for Brazil’s era of military dictatorship.

The two leaders, who met for the first time Tuesday, also discussed their mutual support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader by most Western countries, including the United States and Brazil.

“All options are open,” Trump reiterated when asked by a reporter in the White House Rose Garden if military intervention in Venezuela by the United States is possible.

Trump noted that Washington has yet to apply really tough sanctions on Caracas, where Nicolas Maduro — who the U.S. president called “Cuba’s puppet” — remains in power with the backing of Venezuela’s military.

In oil-rich Venezuela there is no food, water or air-conditioning, according to Trump, while Bolsonaro said “people are starving to death” there.

“We need to put an end to this,” Bolsonaro added.

Space launches

Just ahead of the meeting between the two leaders, the United States and Brazil signed an agreement to support American space launches from Brazil. The State Department says the pact will ensure the proper handling of sensitive U.S. technology consistent with U.S. nonproliferation policy, the Missile Technology Control, and U.S. export control laws and regulations.

The two leaders “agreed to take the steps necessary to enable Brazil to participate in the Department of Homeland Security’s Trusted Traveler Global Entry Program,” according to a joint statement issued following the news conference.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the Oval Office of the White House, March 19, 2019, in Washington.
President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro in the Oval Office of the White House, March 19, 2019, in Washington. VOA

‘Common ground’

The two countries have never had particularly close relations, with Brazil traditionally wary of American influence in Latin America. But now their two leaders find themselves in sync on concerns about the Maduro regime in Venezuela, Cuba’s involvement in that country, and the threat from China’s rising influence on domestic politics in South and Central America.

Also Read: Here’s Why Some Young Adults Engage in Unsafe Sex

Until now, Brazilian diplomacy was a zero-sum kind of relationship, not aligned with U.S. interests and “sort of hostile in certain ways, at least at the bureaucratic level,” former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega told VOA.

“If we can find common ground with them on some key specific initiatives,” the U.S. relationship with Brazil and South America, as a whole, can be realigned, according to Noriega, an American Enterprise Institute visiting fellow.(VOA)