Julian Assange, a major target of the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 US election, has been criminally charged in secret, an apparent mistake in a court filing has indicated.
The court filing, submitted by US 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 disclosure came in a filing in a case unrelated to Assange. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, urging a judge to keep the matter sealed, wrote that “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.” Later, Dwyer wrote the charges would “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.”
Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at George Washington University who closely tracks court cases, uncovered the filing and posted it on Twitter.
A source familiar with the matter told Reuters news agency the document was initially sealed but unsealed this week for reasons that are unclear at the moment.
SCOOP: US Department of Justice "accidentally" reveals existence of sealed charges (or a draft for them) against WikiLeaks' publisher Julian Assange in apparent cut-and-paste error in an unrelated case also at the Eastern District of Virginia. https://t.co/wrjlAbXk5Z pic.twitter.com/4UlB0c1SAX
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 16, 2018