Assange already charged under seal by the Eastern District of Virginia
Not long after the Wall Street Journal reported that DOJ was gearing up to indict Wikileaks’ founder Julian Assange, the Washington Post found that he’s already been charged under seal by the Eastern District of Virginia, who had been overseeing the probe into the Wikileaks disclosures.
The announcement was not meant to reveal any indictment, though, mainly because it was the result of a copy-and-paste error in another court filing that was unrelated.
The case involved Seitu Sulayman Kokayi, the man who had been charged with enticing a 15-year-old girl into sex by sending him pornographic images alongside having “substantial interest in terrorist acts.”
Assistant US Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer wrote: “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 then added charges would “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.”
The Kokayi case included earlier classified information that prosecutors were planning to use information obtained under the FISA act.
His case has been sealed since September.
According to ZH: Since the revelation was made in mistake, no other details about the charges against Assange were revealed.
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 EDVA, said “the court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing.”
Assuming he is charged, it’s still not apparent whether Assange would wind up in a US courtroom to face trial.
He has been living in the US embassy in London since 2012, fearing he would be arrested if he steps outside.
While the relationship between Assange and his Ecuadorian hosts had deteriorated significantly this year – he sued the government in an Ecuadorian court after the embassy cut off his Internet access and took other punitive measures reportedly in response to his slovenly habits and penchant for food-mooching.
You guys should read EDVA court filings more, cheaper than a Journal subscription pic.twitter.com/YULeeQphmd
— Seamus Hughes (@SeamusHughes) November 16, 2018
But he lost the suit and is now appealing.
Even if he is charged, Assange’s coming to the United States to face trial is no sure thing. Since June 2012, Assange has been living in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London, afraid that if he steps outside, he will be arrested.
When he first sought asylum in the embassy, he was facing possible extradition to Sweden in a sex crimes case.
He has argued that case was a pretext for what he predicted would be his arrest and extradition to the United States.
In the years since the Swedish case has been closed, but Assange has said he cannot chance to leave the embassy because the United States would attempt to have him arrested and extradited for disclosures of U.S. government secrets.
Throughout that time, the United States has refused to say whether there are any sealed charges against Assange.
If Assange were to leave the embassy and be arrested by British authorities, he would likely still fight extradition in the British courts.
The DOJ has for years refused to reveal whether charges have been pending against Assange under seal, though it was widely believed that they were.
But. Seeing as filings like Dwyer’s are probably vetted by multiple readers, the fact that an error of such magnitude was allowed to be made is almost suspicious in and of itself, particularly considering the timing with other reports about the DOJ’s efforts to indict Assange (before leaving office, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had confirmed that arresting Assange remained “a priority”).
It’s almost as if somebody had tried to warn him (Assange and Wikileaks have also been cited as unindicted co-conspirators in indictments against a Russian troll farm handed down by the Mueller probe.