Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, “has been charged under seal,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer “inadvertently revealed in a recently unsealed court filing,” The Washington Post reported Thursday.
In August of 2018 according to court documents via The New York Post, Dwyer requested that a Virginia court grant an “Order to Seal the criminal complaint,” of Seitu Sulayman Kokayi, in a matter unrelated to Assange.
On page two however, Dwyer writers, “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.”
On page three Dwyer writes, “the complaint, supporting affidavit, and arrest warrant, as well as this motion and the proposed order, would need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested in connection with the charges in the criminal complaint and can therefore no longer evade or avoid arrest and extradition in this matter.”
The error was first reported on Twitter, by Seamus Hughes, who according to The Washington Post is the Deputy Director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, who is also known for “scrubbing court filings.”
The Journal that Hughes is referring to in the tweet, is The Wall Street Journal who reported Thursday that, “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.”
U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia spokesman, Joshua Stueve told The Washington Post, “The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing.”
One of the attorney’s for Assange, Barry Pollack 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.”
WikiLeaks also responded to the error via Twitter.
The Washington Post notes that at this time the charges against Assange are unknown and even if Assange is charged his return to the U.S. is “no sure thing,” as Assange “has been living in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London,” since 2012.
Seitu Sulayman Kokayi who was indicted last week on chargers related to sex trafficking is expected in court on Friday morning for arraignment. His case had been under seal until September.
Bonus tweet from Seamus Hughes who responded to WikiLeaks “scoop.”