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Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Federal prosecutors have charged former CIA computer engineer Joshua Schulte, 29, with stealing classified information, damaging agency computers, theft of government property, and lying to the FBI, the Justice Department announced Monday.

Why it matters: Investigators believe Schulte, who has been the main suspect in what appears to be the worst leak in CIA history, provided WikiLeaks with a series of stolen documents detailing the government's hacking tools, which the organization then posted online in March 2017. The massive breach, known as "Vault 7," set off a hunt to identify the individual behind the leak.

The backdrop: Investigators had long suspected that Schulte was the man behind the breach, but until Monday, he was being held on separate charges for the possession of child pornography.

Take note: The DOJ's press release did not mention WikiLeaks by name. Instead, federal court documents say Schulte illegally obtained classified information in 2016, then provided it to an organization, which is believed to be WikiLeaks. Politico's Josh Gerstein says the omission signals "that [WikiLeaks] has not been charged in the case."

The impact: "Added together, the charges against him carry a statutory maximum penalty of 135 years in prison," the Washington Post's Matt Zapotosky writes. He adds that some officials have compared the leak to that of former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.

"Atmospheric river" to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood

A map depicting 24-hour preciptation forecast (inches) ending Monday at 5a.m. local time. Photo: NOAA

A series of powerful "atmospheric river" storms are set dump historic amounts of rainfall across parts of drought-stricken California and the Pacific Northwest from this weekend, forecasters warn.

Why it matters: A strong atmospheric river, packing large amounts of moisture, is predicted to whiplash Northern California from drought to flood.

Inside Biden's Taiwan flubs

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Twice this year, President Biden has blurted out commitments that the U.S. is prepared to defend Taiwan against a Chinese invasion — forcing the White House to walk back his statements and leading to confusion over a high-stakes national security policy.

Why it matters: U.S. defense officials have publicly aired their concerns that China will take Taiwan by force in the next four to six years, perhaps sooner. The president's position on this question may soon have real-world, life and death consequences.