WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been secretly indicted in federal court in Virginia, according to information that prosecutors accidentally disclosed in a court filing discovered Thursday.
The filing was submitted on Aug. 22 in a case unrelated to Assange or WikiLeaks. Government sources told The Washington Post that while Assange was inadvertently named in the document, the disclosure was accurate.
Kellen S. Dwyer, the assistant U.S. attorney who submitted the filing, is also assigned to the case against WikiLeaks, The Post’s sources said.
The revelation of the impending indictment against Assange helps settle speculation about whether U.S. prosecutors were developing a case against the WikiLeaks founder, who has lived under asylum in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012.
The filing was discovered Thursday night by Seamus Hughes, a researcher with George Washington University.
You guys should read EDVA court filings more, cheaper than a Journal subscription pic.twitter.com/YULeeQphmd
— Seamus Hughes (@SeamusHughes) November 16, 2018
“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,” reads the filing, which sought to seal documents in a case against Seitu Sulayman Kokayi.
Kokayi, 29, was charged with coercing a 15-year-old girl into having sex with him.
“The complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this motion and the proposed order, 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 filing continues.
Hughes discovered the document after The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Thursday that the Justice Department is preparing charges against Assange.
It is unclear what charges Assange will face, though he has allegedly been under investigation for publishing classified cables stolen in 2010 by ex-Army private Chelsea Manning.
WikiLeaks also published stolen CIA materials in 2017 and emails hacked from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta in 2016.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has been investigating WikiLeaks over the release of emails during the campaign. Mueller’s team has already indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers suspected of hacking Democrats’ emails and leaking them to WikiLeaks.
The anti-secrecy group published the stolen DNC emails on July 22, 2016. The first batch of Podesta emails were published on Oct. 7, 2016.
Mueller is investigating whether Trump associates took part in the hacking or dissemination of the emails.
Barry J. Pollack, a lawyer for Assange, blasted the accidental disclosure.
“The only thing more irresponsible than charging a person for publishing truthful information would be to put in a public filing information that clearly was not intended for the public and without any notice to Mr. Assange,” Pollack told The Post.
“Obviously, I have no idea if he has actually been charged or for what, but the notion that the federal criminal charges could be brought based on the publication of truthful information is an incredibly dangerous precedent to set.”
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