Julian Assange has been charged, prosecutors reveal by mistake

Pauline Gross
November 16, 2018

"Did the US Department of Justice just accidentally reveal that it has charged WikiLeaks' publisher Julian Assange, in a secret charges request it filed in another case at the Eastern District of Virginia, with a cut-and-paste error?", the Wikileaks tweeted sharing a screenshot of the purported document.

Assistant US Attorney Kellen Dwyer, urging a judge to keep the matter sealed, wrote "due to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case, no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged".

It was not immediately clear what charges Assange, who has been holed up for years in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, might face.

"That was not the intended name for this filing", he said.

US officials had no comment on the disclosure in the document about a sealed indictment of Assange.

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The charges would "need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested", Dwyer wrote.

Representatives of the US administration of President Donald Trump, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, have publicly called for Assange to be aggressively prosecuted. If so, charges against the WikiLeaks editor could be potentially linked to the notorious probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is struggling to find proof of Russia's "interference" in the 2016 USA election.

U.S. intelligence agencies say Russian Federation was aiming to harm the chances of Hillary Clinton and favour Donald Trump in the 2016 election by releasing hacked emails belonging to a Clinton aide. Mueller has already indicted 12 Russians in July on charges related to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and Assange could potentially come next, even though WikiLeaks always insisted their source had nothing to do with Moscow. Last year, the US Justice Department was reportedly considering filing criminal charges against WikiLeaks and Assange in connection with the 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents. It was filed in the case of a man named Seitu Sulayman Kokayi.

Assange, who has been holed up in Ecuador's embassy in London since seeking asylum in 2012, is considered a wanted man by United States law enforcement agencies after his controversial publication of classified diplomatic cables and other secret U.S. government documents. But he was detained in part, according to the court filing, because he "has a substantial interest in terrorist acts".

Pollack said he did not know if Assange has been charged. He argued that the case was a pretext for what he predicted would be his arrest and extradition to the United States.

Other reports by GizPress

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