U.S. prosecutors get indictment against Wikileaks' Assange: court document

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The US Department of Justice reportedly plans to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Assange and WikiLeaks are at the center of the special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 USA election.

American prosecutors obtained a sealed indictment against Mr Assange, whose website published thousands of classified USA government documents, a U.S. federal court document showed on Thursday.

The still unsealed charges against Assange were disclosed by Assistant US Attorney Kellen Dwyer as she made a filing in the unrelated case and urged a judge to keep that filing sealed.

"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", Pollack said in an email.

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Over the past year, prosecutors in the United States have been discussing the possibility of charging the WikiLeaks co-founder with a number of crimes, which, they hope, could see Assange expelled from the Ecuadorean embassy in London, Washington-based sources familiar with the matter have told the WSJ.

According to the document, prosecutors sought to keep the charges confidential until after Mr Assange's arrest, saying the move was essential to ensure he did not evade or avoid arrest and extradition in the case.

The passages containing Assange's name appear in a sex trafficking case that involves national security concerns.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has also exploring the publication by WikiLeaks of emails from the Democratic National Committee and the account of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.

It adds, "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".

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Prosecutors revealed the existence of the sealed indictment inadvertently in a court filing in an unrelated case, WikiLeaks said.

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. He was detained, according to a court filing, because he "has a substantial interest in terrorist acts" that may be related to convictions against his father-in-law.

Wikileaks tweeted the revelation was an "apparent cut-and-paste error".

Legal analysts said the error was likely to have been caused by prosecutors copying and pasting from sealed documents outlining charges against Assange. It was submitted to court in Kokayi's case in August this year and went unnoticed until now.

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