WikiLeaks founder ‘may have been charged in secret’

US Department of Justice inadvertently names Julian Assange in court document

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: inadvertently named in a court document. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange: inadvertently named in a court document. Photograph: Justin Tallis/AFP/Getty Images

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The US Department of Justice has inadvertently named Julian Assange in a court document that suggests the WikiLeaks founder may have been charged in secret.

A court filing from a prosecutor in Virginia in a case unrelated to Mr Assange mentions his name twice.

The document, which urges a judge to keep the matter sealed, states that the charges “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”.

The prosecutor later says 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”.

WikiLeaks said on Twitter that it was an apparent “cut and paste” mistake. The Justice Department has said the filing was made in error.

Mr Assange has been living inside Ecuador’s embassy in London for over six years after the country granted him asylum as he tried to avoid extradition to Sweden.

Any arrest could have an impact on the investigation in the United States into any ties between Russia and the 2016 presidential campaign.

The filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at George Washington University in Washington DC, who said on Twitter: “To be clear, seems Freudian, it’s for a different completely unrelated case, every other page is not related to him, EDVA [Eastern District of Virginia] just appears to have assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name.”

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