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.”
The filing in the Eastern District of Virginia came Aug. 22 in a case that combines national security and sex trafficking. Seitu Sulayman Kokayi, 29, was charged with enticing a 15-year-old girl to have sex with him and send him pornographic images of herself. But he was detained in part because he “has a substantial interest in terrorist acts,” according to the court filing.