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Friday, November 16, 2018

U.S. Prosecuters Accidentally(?) Reveal Secret Indictment of WikiLeaks' Julian Assange, Justice Dept. Confident to Extradite Soon


Julian Assange has been charged, prosecutors reveal inadvertently in court filing

By Matt Zapotosky and Devlin Barrett
The Washington Post

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal, prosecutors inadvertently revealed in a recently unsealed court filing — a development that could significantly advance the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and have major implications for those who publish government secrets.

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.”

Dwyer is also assigned to the WikiLeaks case. People familiar with the matter said what Dwyer was disclosing was true, but unintentional.

Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, said, “The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing.”

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment.

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

Read the rest at The Washington Post.


U.S. Is Optimistic It Will Prosecute Assange

Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against the WikiLeaks founder

By Aruna Viswanatha and Ryan Dube

The Justice Department is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom, according to people in Washington familiar with the matter.

Over the past year, U.S. prosecutors have discussed several types of charges they could potentially bring against Mr. Assange, the people said. Mr. Assange has lived in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since receiving political asylum from the South American country in 2012.

In a court filing in an unrelated case in the Eastern District of Virginia, prosecutors also appeared to reference the prospect that Mr. Assange has already been secretly charged.

The people familiar with the case wouldn’t describe whether discussions were under way with the U.K. or Ecuador about Mr. Assange, but said they were encouraged by recent developments.

Ecuador’s relationship with Mr. Assange has deteriorated sharply since last year’s election of President Lenin Moreno, who has described him as a “stone in our shoe” and said his continued presence at the embassy is unsustainable.

An indictment from special counsel Robert Mueller that portrayed WikiLeaks as a tool of Russian intelligence for releasing thousands of hacked Democratic emails during the 2016 presidential campaign has made it more difficult for Mr. Assange to mount a defense as a journalist. Public opinion of Mr. Assange in the U.S. has dropped since the campaign.

Prosecutors have considered publicly indicting Mr. Assange to try to trigger his removal from the embassy, the people said. A detailed explanation of the evidence against Mr. Assange could give Ecuadorean authorities a reason to turn him over, they said.

The exact charges the Justice Department might pursue remain unclear, but they may involve the Espionage Act, which criminalizes the disclosure of national defense-related information.

Read the rest at The Wall Street Journal.


(THL) I'll post my thoughts about these developments on The Humble Libertarian later today.

Yours are welcome in the comment thread below...

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