WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, “has been charged,” according to a court filing that inadvertently mentioned his name. The court filing was with respect to a different case, unrelated to Assange.
The New York Times reported that the filing was first spotted late Thursday. The reports did not disclose the exact nature of the charges Assange will face.
The Washington Post, citing people familiar with the matter, reported that the disclosure about Assange being charged is true, but it was unintentional.
A spokesman from the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia told the Post that the court filing “was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing.”
The Times reported Thursday that the filing was first brought to light by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert from George Washington University, who posted the highlighted item on Twitter.
It read, “Another procedure short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, 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.”
You guys should read EDVA court filings more, cheaper than a Journal subscription pic.twitter.com/YULeeQphmd
— Seamus Hughes (@SeamusHughes) November 16, 2018
It was assumed that prosecutors on the case did not want to publicize the charges because they were concerned there would be an attempt by Assange to evade arrest.
The Post reported that the disclosure came in an unrelated court filing from Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer who is also assigned to the Assange case.
WikiLeaks responded on Thursday, calling it an “apparent cut-and-paste error” and that the website, which shares confidential government documents, “has never been contacted by anyone from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office.”
A lawyer representing Assange, Barry Pollack, said that he hadn’t been made aware of any new developments concerning his client, and he condemned the notion of prosecuting him.
“We have heard nothing from authorities suggesting that a criminal case against Mr. Assange is imminent,” Pollack said. “Prosecuting someone for publishing truthful information would set a terrible and dangerous precedent.”
The new information about Assange charges comes as Mueller is reportedly getting close to indicting Roger Stone, an informal Trump advisor.
There has been a great deal of speculation concerning Stone’s role in the WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Bringing criminal charges would presumably add to the pressure on Stone, and Mueller may be trying to get him to cooperate and testify against Donald Trump.
If Assange is charged with a crime in the United States, he would first have to be turned over by Ecuador to authorities in the United Kingdom, who would then extradite him to this country where he would be taken into custody.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.