The Department of Justice appears to have inadvertently revealed in an unsealed court filing that they have prepared charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, according to The Washington Post.
There is some confusion about whether Assange has been charged, but the development appears to be tied to special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation, according to the Post.
The charges were disclosed in a filing in an unrelated case for a different person charged with coercion and enticement of a minor, CNN reported.
There are reportedly two references to charges against Assange in the court filing which argues for the third-party’s case to be kept sealed.
The Post reports that Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer asked a judge to keep the charges sealed “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.”
People familiar with the case say Dwyer, who is also assigned to the WikiLeaks case, said what he disclosed was true, but unintentional.
A spokesman for 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 charges against him could include violating the Espionage Act, which criminalizes releasing information regarding national defense.
Assange has been under investigation by the DOJ since 2010 after WikiLeaks leaked thousands of classified reports on the war in Afghanistan that were stolen by former U.S. Army Intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.
WikiLeaks also posted thousands of emails stolen from Democrats by Russian agents during the 2016 presidential election, which has been a focus of Mueller’s probe into possible links between Trump campaign associates and Russia.
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