Julian Assange charged in secret, mistake on U.S. court filing suggests

Arturo Kim
November 16, 2018

The WikiLeaker has been hiding in Ecuador's London embassy for more than six years over fears that his state secrets-blabbing website WikiLeaks had enraged the American establishment to the point that it would try to prosecute him.

USA prosecutors have revealed the existence of a sealed indictment against Julian Assange, whose website WikiLeaks first gained notoriety when it published a trove of classified U.S. government documents in 2010.

U.S. officials had no comment on the disclosure in the document about a sealed indictment of Mr Assange and it is unclear what charges he faces.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of Virginia said, "The court filing was made in error".

The disclosure came in a filing in a case unrelated to Assange.

The Times reported Thursday that the filing was first brought to light by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert from George Washington University, posted the highlighted item on Twitter.

The charges were mistakenly disclosed in a a three-page filing dated August 2 in a case against a man named Seitu Sulayman Kokayi, who is charged with coercing and enticing an underage person in sexual activity. Most remarkably, the mistaken disclosure appears to have been the result of a copy-paste error. The charges "need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested", Dwyer added later.

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"That was not the intended name for this filing", the spokesperson said.

"It is inexplicable that the government would file in a public document a claim that Mr. Assange has been charged when no notice has been given to Mr. Assange", Assange's attorney Barry Pollack said.

The Australian's self-imposed exile in the Ecuadorian embassy is because the country offered him asylum when it looked likely that Sweden would indict him over allegations of sexual assault, which Assange believed was a pretext to spirit him off to America where he would potentially face espionage charges.

United States officials have previously acknowledged that federal prosecutors based in Alexandria have been conducting a lengthy criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder.

USA intelligence agencies say Russian Federation was aiming to harm the chances of Hillary Clinton and favour Donald Trump in the 2016 election by releasing hacked emails belonging to a Clinton aide. It spent years exploring whether it could criminally charge Assange and WikiLeaks for publishing classified information.

Assange sought refuge in the Ecuadorian Embassy in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced allegations of rape, or the US where he could face trial for publishing the thousands of secret government documents in 2010.

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