Last month, following a series of seemingly random tweets by Wikileaks, we reported that starting on February 4th, each day Wikileaks began sending out a series of cryptic question Tweets teasing the world about “Vault 7”. The questions were framed in Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How format (but not in that order). Each came with an image “clue”.
Here they are in chronological order starting with the earliest.
- What: The first tweet shows a picture of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
- Where: The second tweet shows a picture of a vault in a former salt mine in Merkers, Germany where Nazis stored money, gold, paintings, and other valuables during World War II. This mine vault was captured by the United States in April 1945.
- When: The third tweet shows a picture of a Pratt & Whitney F119 airplane engine, which is the engine for the Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor. The picture in the tweet was taken on April 9th, 2010 at Langley Air Force Base as part of a story published on April 12th about the soundproof "hush houses" used for jet engine testing.
- Who: The fourth tweet shows a picture of the Manning, Assange, and Snowden "infamous spies" posters released by the Defense Security Service.
- Why: The fifth tweet shows a picture from the article Keeping Structures Strong, which discusses the 509th Civil Engineer Squadron's work repairing infrastructure on Whiteman Air Force Base. The specific picture tweeted is captioned "Staff Sgt. Adam Boyd, 509th Civil Engineer Squadron structural supervisor, welds a box blade for a snow plow, Feb. 27. Structures Airmen perform jobs such as this one to save the Air Force from having to possibly spend money on parts made by civilian companies."
- How: Or, more specifically, "How did #Vault7 make its way to WikiLeaks?" The sixth tweet shows a picture of "Surveillance of mailboxes in Berlin". The picture is caption "When mailboxes were being observed by Stasi agents, every person posting a letter was photographed. Some films found in the Stasi archives also show persons dressed in civilian clothing emptying the mailbox after the conclusion of the surveillance action."
While it is possible that Vault 7 is directly related to one of these pictures, these pictures may just be representative images, part of some sort of pattern, or clues about the answers to the corresponding questions. As the pictures are images of entirely different things (and no longer just pictures of vaults), each individual picture being related to the answer of the question tweeted along with it seems quite plausible.
Then, after a flurry of appearances over a month ago, the topic of "Vault 7" faded away from the Wikileaks twitter account, until Monday evening, when in a tweet around 7:30pm, Wikileaks announced that it had released an encrypted 'torrent' file, just over 500 MB in size and which can be downloaded now at the following URL, will be made accessible for everyone tomorrow at 9am ET when Wikileaks releases the passphrase.
In subsequent tweets, Wikileaks provides further information on how to unzip the encrypted file contained in the torrent.
How to unarchive a ".7z" (7zip) file: Use a 7zip program. Many are available for Windows/Mac/Linux. Internet search for "7zip".— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) March 7, 2017
Why unveil the contents of "Vault 7", which some have speculated is a form of an insurance policy for Julian Assange? It may have something to do with Saturday's report that Guillermo Lasso, the frontrunner in Ecuador's presidential election, whose runoff round will take place on April 2, has warned that he will ask "Assange to leave our [London] embassy." Or it could be something totally different.
For now, there is no indication what is contained on the released torrent, although we are confident that many will have it downloaded and looking forward to tomorrow's 9am release of the password to unlock the contents of the mysterious file.