The FBI “exercised remarkable caution and candor” in securing search warrants that led to espionage charges against a former CIA employee, prosecutors have told a federal judge presiding over the case.
Prosecutors said a court hearing is unnecessary to reject Joshua Adam Schulte’s claims that evidence should be tossed out because searches of his New York City residence and various electronic accounts were illegal.
The government made its arguments in papers filed late Friday in Manhattan federal court.
It said Schulte’s claims that he was subject to illegal searches were “entirely without merit.”
Prosecutors wrote that the FBI responded properly after WikiLeaks in March 2017 began one of the most significant disclosures of U.S. government classified information in the nation’s history.
They said a series of 26 disclosures by WikiLeaks significantly damaged U.S. national security by disclosing the agency’s intelligence-gathering methods and providing a way for “hostile actors” to turn “these potent cyber weapons against the United States.”
Prosecutors said the search quickly led to Schulte, a disgruntled former CIA employee with an expertise in developing tools to covertly copy electronic data who was one of a small number of CIA employees authorized to access the leaked information.
They said the FBI sought a second warrant to search for evidence of child pornography after finding an image on Schulte’s home desktop computer that depicted a child engaged in sexual acts. Schulte has been charged separately with crimes related to that evidence.
Eventually, prosecutors said, the FBI sought additional search warrants because Schulte engaged in an “information war” against the U.S. by smuggling contraband cellphones into prison and using encrypted email accounts to disclose more classified information.
“Despite the urgency of this national security investigation, the FBI exercised remarkable caution and candor in securing search warrants in this case,” the government said.
Defense lawyers have asked a judge to toss out evidence. They say investigators violated search warrants by conducting a widespread search and seizure, including taking notebooks Schulte had carefully labeled as protected by attorney-client privilege.
He has pleaded not guilty to charges that he leaked classified information that was disclosed publicly by WikiLeaks in March 2017.