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Justice Dept. filing alludes to charges against WikiLeaks founder Assange

By
Clyde Hughes
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he's lived since 2012. File Photo by Kerim Okten/EPA
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he's lived since 2012. File Photo by Kerim Okten/EPA

Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors have revealed by mistake that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been secretly charged in sealed court documents.

Assange's name was mentioned twice in a filing by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer to a District Court judge in Virginia in an unrelated case.

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The subject in the unrelated case was charged with enticing a 15-year-old girl for sex and investigated for other charges, The Washington Post reported. In the document, federal prosecutors seemed to acknowledge an active case against Assange.

"Another procedure short of sealing will not adequately protect the needs of law enforcement at this time because, 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," Dwyer wrote in the filing.

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The assistant U.S. attorney wrote the other suspect's charges would "need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested." The document did not explain any connection or association between Assange and the other man.

Seamus Hughes, deputy director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, was the first to spot the inadvertent disclosure Thursday.

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"The court filing was made in error," Joshua Stueve, a Justice Department representative, said Thursday. "That was not the intended name for this filing."

The filing didn't specify charges against Assange. WikiLeaks, however, could play a significant role in the Justice Department's Russia investigation.

Barry J. Pollack, one of Assange's attorneys, bristled about his client's name being used in the unrelated case.

"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," Pollack told the Post.

"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."

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