Charges Against Julian Assange Accidently Released In Secret Court Filing
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was named seemingly by accident in a sealed Virginia court filing, indicating that officials at the Justice Department may have charges prepared for the Australian leaker.
The court filing, which was recorded in August and involves a man accused of coercing a minor for sex, references Assange by name twice. The federal prosecutor handling the case attempted to have it sealed due to publicity concerns.
“[The charges] would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter,” the prosecutor wrote in the filing. “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.”
The Assange’s name appears only twice in one page of the 34 page filing, making it unclear for what reason he was included at all.
“The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing,” Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the team in charge of investigating Assange from the Eastern District of Virginia, told Politico.
WikiLeaks stands at the center of the ongoing Russia investigation headed by special counsel Robert Mueller. WikiLeaks was responsible for publishing thousands of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee weeks before the 2016 presidential election.
Any charges levied against Assange would shed light on the Russia investigation, as they could help determine if any members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign had advanced knowledge of the hack and publishing.
Assange is currently residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in order to prevent his extradition to Sweden, where he has been accused of sex crimes, or the U.S. to face prosecution for WikiLeaks’ involvement in the 2010 Chelsea Manning leaks and 2013 Snowden-NSA leaks.
Assange’s lawyer, Barry Pollack, told the Associated Press this week that he had not received any charges relating to the 47-year-old former hacker.
Terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University Seamus Hughes discovered the court filing, posting it on Twitter Thursday.
“To be clear, seems Freudian, it’s for a different completely unrelated case, every other page is not related to him, EDVA just appears to have Assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name,” he later added.