May 21, 2022

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged

4 min read
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged

The US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed the existence of sealed charges (or a draft for them) against WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange in apparent cut-and-paste error in an unrelated case also at the Eastern District of Virginia.

The accidental disclosure came in a filing in a case unrelated to WikiLeaks founder Julian 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.”


It’s not clear what charges Julian Assange has been charged with or would face. In the past, prosecutors had contemplated pursuing a case involving conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act. But whether to charge the WikiLeaks founder never had a conclusion. In the Obama administration, the Justice Department had come to the conclusion that pursuing Mr. Assange would be akin to prosecuting a news organization.

In the Trump administration, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had taken a more aggressive postion and had vowed to crack down on all government leaks. Currently, Assange resides under political asylum inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in Knightsbridge, London. He entered in 2012 while facing sexual assault allegations, which have since been dropped.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesperson for the attorney’s office responsible for the case filing, told The Washington Post it had been “made in error” and claimed that Julian Assange was “not the intended name for this filing.”

On Twitter,  agreed with Stueve. writing to be clear, seems Freudian, it’s for a different completely unrelated case, every other page is not related to him, EDVA just appears to have Assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name.”

Barry Pollack, who’s part of Julian Assange’s legal team, said: “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.

“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.” On Twitter Friday, WikiLeaks branded the news a “scoop” and said it was a “cut and paste error” by the Eastern District of Virginia.

WikiLeaks tweeted: “The US case against WikiLeaks started in 2010 and was expanded over Snowden and the largest leak in CIA history ‘Vault 7.’ The prosecutor on the order is not from Mr. Mueller’s team and WikiLeaks has never been contacted by anyone from his office.”

Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of Virginia have been investigating Julian Assange for a while and, in the Trump administration, had begun taking a another look at whether to charge members of the WikiLeaks organization for the 2010 leak of diplomatic cables and military documents that they published. Investigators also had explored whether WikiLeaks could face any criminal liability for the more recent revelation of sensitive CIA cybertools.

Special counsel Robert Mueller and his team have also explored WikiLeaks’ publication of emails from the DNC and the account of John Podesta. Officials have alleged that the emails were hacked by Russian spies and transferred to WikiLeaks.

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