Julian Assange Has Been 'Charged In Secret', US Accidentally Reveals

Saturday, 17 Nov, 2018

The revelation suggests that United States authorities are optimistic about getting the Wikileaks founder, now holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, into an American court.

The Department of Justice investigation into Julian Assange dates back to 2010, when WikiLeaks was publishing video evidence of the extrajudicial killings of Iraqi citizens and two Reuters reporters by USA troops provided by whistleblower Chelsea Manning.

Assange's name appeared at least twice in papers filed in the Eastern District Court of Virginia, both times appearing to say that Assange has already been made the subject of his own case.

U.S. officials had no comment on the disclosure and it is unclear what charges Assange faces.

Prosecutors have obtained a sealed indictment against Assange, something that emerged in a Thursday filing in an unrelated criminal case in a Virginia federal court.

The document said charges "would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested. and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition".

The charges were inadvertently revealed in a court filing which had recently been unsealed, according to The Washington Post.

WikiLeaks tweeted it was an "apparent cut-and-paste error".

Federal prosecutors have been investigating Assange over WikiLeaks' 2010 publication of a trove of USA diplomatic cables that proved an acute embarrassment to Washington.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller III has also exploring the publication by WikiLeaks of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

Unfortunately Julian Assange was named in a sexual assault case and fearing prosecution he had to seek asylum from Ecuador.

A person familiar with the matter, speaking on condition of anonymity because the case had not been made public, confirmed that charges had been filed under seal.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the USA attorney's office in the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a statement that the filing was made erroneously. Dwyer is also probing WikiLeaks.

Assange's lawyer in the USA told the Times the charges were "troubling". However, there is a remarkable irony in the fact that Assange's attorney is now complaining it was "irresponsible" for federal prosecutors "to put in a public filing information that clearly was not intended for the public and without any notice". The charges were dropped later and Sweden even took back the European arrest warrant, but he is still liable for prosecution in the United Kingdom for breaching his bail conditions. At the time, under then-Attorney General Eric Holder, the Justice Department was considering charges related to a violation of the Espionage Act.

One of Assange's lawyers told The Guardian newspaper that the suggestion his client had been charged with a crime was troubling.