In a turn of events that reads like a plot point from an unreleased Coen Brothers script, information has surfaced revealing that prosecutors have charged embattled WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange.
The information came to light as part of the recently unsealed filing of a seemingly unrelated sex crimes case. How Assange’s name and fate appeared in those court documents is apparently anyone’s guess. WikiLeaks, for one, is chalking the whole kerfuffle up to a “cut-and-paste error.”
The three-page filing itself dates back to August, originating from the court of the Eastern District of Virginia. It was unsealed the following month, but hadn’t received much attention until now, when George Washington University faculty member Seamus Hughes stumbled upon an odd passage in the filing.
“[D]ue to the sophistication of the defendant and the publicity surrounding the case,” the filing reads, “no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged.”
Hughes suggested that the mention was a Freudian slip from someone who, “just appears to have Assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name.” Ultimately, the truth of the matter seems much more unfortunate for Assange, who has been holed up in London’s Ecuadoran embassy.
“The news that criminal charges have apparently been filed against Mr. Assange is even more troubling than the haphazard manner in which that information has been revealed,” Assange lawyer Barry Pollack told The New York Times. “The government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a dangerous path for a democracy to take.”
The charges could ultimately have additional cascading effects, impacting other major cases, including Robert Mueller’s on-going investigation into the 2016 election.