WASHINGTON — Federal prosecutors may be preparing criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to media reports.
Assange’s name appeared twice in an August court filing from a federal prosecutor in Virginia, who was attempting to keep sealed a separate case involving a man accused of coercing a minor for sex.
Noting the “sophistication of the defendant,” a prosecutor wrote a judge in the filing that “no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged,” The Washington Post reported.
The newspaper reported that Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer in the Eastern District of Virginia told the judge that the possible charges “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.”
Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the Eastern District of Virginia said the court filing was made “ in error.”
On Twitter, WikiLeaks described the disclosure as “an apparent cut-and-paste error.”
The filing was discovered by Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, who posted it on Twitter and said, “To be clear, seems Freudian, it’s for a different completely unrelated case, every other page is not related to him, EDVA just appears to have Assange on the mind when filing motions to seal and used his name.
Assange, 47, currently lives in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he took refuge in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden for questioning on rape allegations. The investigation was dropped last year, but Assange still faces charges in Britain for skipping bail.
The Australian national has decided to remain in the embassy out of fear that the United States would immediately seek his arrest and extradition over the leaking of classified documents to WikiLeaks by then-U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning.
WikiLeaks is also the focus of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential elections by distributing hacked materials.
Contributing: Doug Stanglin and the Associated Press.