Published: Sat, November 17, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged in secret, U.S. court document suggests

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange charged in secret, U.S. court document suggests

The Washington Post reported Thursday that prosecutors made the inadvertent admission while seeking to seal a criminal complaint in a case with unknown (if any) links to Assange, whose WikiLeaks organization has exposed top secret government documents for years.

While we now have strong evidence that Assange is facing some kind of USA criminal charges, the exact details of those charges are unknown.

The court filing, submitted by United States authorities in an unrelated case, mentioned the existence of criminal charges against someone named "Assange" even though that was not the name of the defendant.

The prosecutor added that the charges would "need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested".

Joshua Stueve, a spokesperson for the attorney's office responsible for the filing, told The Washington Post it had been "made in error" and claimed that Assange was "not the intended name for this filing".

The Australian's name appeared twice in a court filing from a prosecutor in Virginia in a case involving a man accused of coercing a minor for sex.

On social network Twitter, Wikileaks said it was an "apparent cut-and-paste error".

The exact charges prosecutors would bring are unclear, but they are likely to include some related to the Espionage Act.

It was not immediately clear what charges Assange would face.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange prepares to speak from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has lived since being granted asylum in 2012. The leaks range from a video showing an American Apache helicopter in the Iraq War shooting and killing two journalists, to emails from the Democratic National Committee exposing alleged misconduct during the 2016 presidential campaign. "The government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a unsafe path for a democracy to take", he said.

CNN reported in April 2017 that United States authorities prepared charges to seek Assange's arrest, citing U.S. officials familiar with the matter.

The information first came to light when it was highlighted in the unsealed case filing and then tweeted by former senior Senate counterterrorism advisor Seamus Hughes, who opined in a later tweet that he thought it had been a "Freudian" typo by a court that has "Assange on [its] mind".

Sweden dropped the charges past year, but Assange could still face charges related to skipping bail if he left the embassy.

He was initially treated as a welcome guest but a change in government in Ecuador last March led to a crackdown on visits and internet access. But no charges were ever announced, and Assange remained holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy where he has been for years.

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