WASHINGTON, Feb. 29 (UPI) -- U.S. prosecutors have prepared secret charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an e-mail obtained by hackers reveals.
Fred Burton, vice president for intelligence at Texas-based global intelligence firm Stratfor, mentioned the charges in an internal e-mail to Stratfor analysts on Jan. 26, 2011, the Sydney Morning Herald reported Wednesday.
"We have a sealed indictment on Assange," Burton wrote after a media report concerning U.S. investigations targeting WikiLeaks.
He underscored the sensitivity of the information, apparently obtained from a U.S. government source, with warnings to "Pls [please] protect" and "Not for pub[lication]," the Australian newspaper said.
WikiLeaks this week began releasing more than 5 million Stratfor e-mails it said reveal "how a private intelligence agency works, and how they target individuals for their corporate and government clients." Stratfor said in December its systems had been hacked by Anonymous, whose members have aligned themselves with WikiLeaks.
The Herald has an investigative partnership with WikiLeaks.
Assange, who is from Australia, is in Britain awaiting a court ruling on his efforts to avoid extradition to Sweden to be questioned about sexual assault allegations. He has not been charged in Sweden, but is concerned being sent there could result in his further extradition to the United States to face possible espionage or conspiracy charges for WikiLeaks' publication of hundreds of thousands of leaked classified U.S. military and diplomatic documents.
U.S. Army Pvt. Bradley Manning faces court-martial for 22 alleged offenses in the leaks case.