Transcripts of the hearing directly reference the FBI investigation into the Vault 7 leaks: "In March of 2017, there was the WikiLeaks leak, where 8,000 Central Intelligence Agency documents were leaked on the Internet".
The 2017 breach, codenamed Vault 7, details how the CIA can take over iPhones through malware and turn smart TVs into surveillance devices and is believed to be the agency's largest leak of classified documents.
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".
According to his family and his LinkedIn page, Mr. Schulte did an internship at the National Security Agency while working on a bachelor's degree in computer engineering. "The government immediately had enough evidence to establish that he was a target of that investigation", said prosecutor Matthew Laroche in court.
"Due to these unfortunate coincidences the Federal Bureau of Investigation ultimately made the snap judgment that I was guilty of the leaks and targeted me", Schulte wrote in a statement obtained by the Post.
A week after the leak of the Vault 7 series in March 2017, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents searched Schulte's apartment in Manhattan, New York, and then stopped him from flying to Mexico, taking his passport.
They allege messages sent by Mr Schulte suggest he was aware of illicit pictures being hosted on a server he created as a business while a university student in 2009.
Schulte has pleaded not guilty to the charges of possessing, receiving and transporting images of child abuse, according to his indictment in September, and is now being held in a jail in NY, pending his trial. Authorities searched his apartment in NY a year ago in hopes of finding evidence of sharing secret documents with WikiLeaks, going through his computers and handwritten notes.
Instead, Schulte was charged last August with three counts of receipt, possession and transportation of child pornography. He denies those charges, saying the server the material was discovered on was available for use by as many as 100 other people. But that failed to provide the evidence that prosecutors needed to indict Schulte with illegally giving the information to WikiLeaks.
Following the filing of the August charges, Schulte was told not to leave New York City and to stay off computers.
Far from leaking classified information, his father said, Mr. Schulte had actually complained about security vulnerabilities at the C.I.A., first to his superiors and later to the agency's inspector general and to a House Intelligence Committee staff member. Prosecutors, meanwhile, said in court last week that they plan to file a new indictment in the next 45 days. He left the agency in November 2016 and moved to NY to work for Bloomberg L.P.as a software engineer.
At a January 8 hearing, Schulte's attorneys argued that they did not contest his detention, based on their understanding that Schulte would be sent to Virginia, pursuant to a warrant.