back to article Court doc typo 'reveals' Julian Assange may have been charged in US

An apparent cut-and-paste error has revealed that American prosecutors may have already filed criminal charges against cupboard-dwelling WikiLeaks fugitive Julian Assange. In what appears to be a unrelated case filed in a Virginia district court against someone accused of child molestation, a motion to seal that case – the …

  1. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    WTF?

    Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    Wasn't this exactly what he said would happen?

  2. macjules Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    It must be terrible to know that he always was quite right, they really are out to get him.

  3. Lee D Silver badge

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    Er...

    Yes,.

    And the problem with that is...?

    The *RUBBISH* was that he would be forcibly extradited against the UK's will, or attacked or shot or killed or something.

    But charges were always possible and pretty much inevitable.

    To apply them to him, they have to apply for extradition. To the UK. Who approve or not based on law. Like everyone else.

    What you've done is taken his hyperbole and spin and applied it to "US charges someone who revealed US classified information, and then MAYBE asks for their extradition to face US charges". Which is totally non-shocking, non-news, and non-exciting.

    Assange, however, was claiming that he'll be "extraordinarily renditioned" or murdered. Which has been utter tripe. And that's obvious because the bloke is stuck in a VERY VERY public place that he cannot ever leave and gives interviews out of his balcony... hardly the actions of someone who fears being sniped.

  4. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    "Wasn't this exactly what he said would happen?"

    AFAICR this was his excuse for jumping bail despite the fact that he'd been in the UK for some time and no extradition had been filed. And despite the fact that the US would have found it much easier to file while he was in the UK than Sweden and the latter, because of the EAW, would have had first dibs on him. When exactly were these charges filed? We don't know but if this is a recent typo it's likely that it was recently. Back when he first painted himself into a corner he was far more likely to have been punished by being ignored.

    The situation now seems to be that Sweden would have to go through the EAW again if he was to emerge and in the meanwhile he'd presumably be doing time for bail jumping giving the US a chance to get its paperwork finalised for an extradition request. He could, of course, stay put for a bit longer providing he avoids giving Ecuador reason to shove him out and just hope that the next POTUS decides to simply treat him as a non-entity.

  5. Jove Bronze badge

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    Of course he knew, there is no mystery around how traitors and spys are treated.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    Getting taken out by a headshot while standing on the Ecuadorian Embassy balcony in the UK is guaranteed to generate a shitstorm. Going "missing" under unknown circumstances after taking an unregistered private plane ride is another matter, especially if enough intermediaries are involved.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    He said it would happen SIX YEARS AGO. It is unlikely this "cut and paste error" was from a 6+ year old case, more likely he has been charged under seal in connection with the Mueller probe right around the time of this August 2018 filing. That probe has farmed out a lot of cases to the eastern district of Virginia where this was found.

    It would be ironic if in his fear that the US would charge him if Hillary was president, he committed a crime in the process of trying to prevent Hillary from becoming president.

    Mueller likely has a number of indictments under seal at the time - knowledge that Assange had been indicted would alert those he was conspiring with that their connections to him may have been exposed. There's little to be gained by keeping his indictment secret, since he's been in hiding for six years and seems willing to sentence himself to an unlimited time of self-exposed exile rather than possible justice for any crimes he may have committed.

  8. HereIAmJH

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    Of course he knew, there is no mystery around how traitors and spys are treated

    We pay for their sex change and release them after 6 years?

  9. Andrew Norton

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    A very good point.

    I was thinking of this entirely in light of the Manning case and investigation, but yes, it could indeed be Mueller related and to his contacts and actions regarding Trump and possibly the DNC leak.

    That would also explain a few things, like why it would be under seal, and why they'd be filing an indictment now when the facts have been known for 8 years (which would have made it the longest grand jury ever, I believe, beating the previous record of 6 years, and the only one to year the standard 3-year time limit TWICE)

  10. Stork Bronze badge

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    Traitor he isn't, as he is not American. Spy is also a long shot. Aiding and abetting?

  11. katrinab Silver badge

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    He’s wrong about the claim that going to Sweden would increase his chances of being extradited to the US.

  12. gnasher729 Silver badge

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    Not quite what he said would happen. If he is being charged now (and we really don't know that at all), that is many many years later. He could have gone to Sweden, maybe gone to jail for a short time, flown back to Newzealand, all before charges were brought. Now it may be too late.

  13. BebopWeBop Silver badge

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    Well one hopes that The Aussies would have felt morally obliged to accept him - he is Australian after all

  14. rg287

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    And the problem with that is...?

    The *RUBBISH* was that he would be forcibly extradited against the UK's will, or attacked or shot or killed or something.

    But charges were always possible and pretty much inevitable.

    To apply them to him, they have to apply for extradition. To the UK. Who approve or not based on law. Like everyone else.

    The problem of course is that these charges are sealed. The US has no business calling itself a free or democratic society if a person can be charged without actually being informed of those charges.

    Moreover, it raises the question as to the purpose of sealing the charges. In order to extradite him, the US would have to reveal those charges - even the lopsided UK-US extradition treaty doesn't stretch to "We want him. Because. We'll tell him about the charges after he's been extradited. Promise."

    Unless they were going to extradite him on one reasonable charge and then unseal a raft of trumped up charges the moment he lands, with the intention of dragging him through a show trial and setting an example. Because if there's one thing you never do, it's embarrass the US government by telling the world that their security is crap, they've been repeatedly breaking their own laws and don't have proper control or oversight over their own agencies. History tells us they'll be far more interested in persecuting the whistleblower than actually remedying their faults.

    None of which makes him any less of an arse, but he wouldn't get a fair trial in the US - a country where at least one Senator called for him to be brought to justice for treason, thus raising the question of whether he was so self-centred he assumed Assange to be American (because nobody has ever done anything worthwhile outside those borders), or whether said US Senator literally does not know the definition of "Treason" and why an Australian can't commit Treason against the USA (or indeed any nation other than Australia).

  15. Andrew Norton

    Re: Well he's a bit of an arse, but...

    "The problem of course is that these charges are sealed. The US has no business calling itself a free or democratic society if a person can be charged without actually being informed of those charges."

    They're only sealed at the point of being filed. They do that while they to prepare to collect evidence based on those claims, or because they're getting similar charges filed against others where revealing one means those connected know they're vulnerable.

    It's also used in more complex investigations, where you'll be accruing charges as time goes on, it might be charge A now, and then 3 weeks later as you're still processing the evidence, you might go through 3 other people and suddenly have a charge B to add.

    Before anything can be done about it, those charges become unsealed. Now, another fun thing is that indictments aren't permanent. They have a shelf-life, typically 180 days ('speedy trial act') before they expire. This clock doesn't run when they're sealed, but sealing is a 'special' action, and you really have to justify it to the judge why it's being sealed. If you lie about it, the indictment can be dismissed (especially if absent the seal, it goes over the time limit and thus violates the requirement in the constitution for a speedy trial.

    BTW, an indictment is just an initial step than the UK doesn't have. It's basically a process where a prosecutor presents whatever evidence they feel they want to show to a neutral party (the grand jury) to demonstrate that the minimum barrier of 'probable cause' exists. I don't do criminal law, but my belief is that in the UK, the equivilent step is the police officer's discretion.

    "Unless they were going to extradite him on one reasonable charge and then unseal a raft of trumped up charges the moment he lands, with the intention of dragging him through a show trial and setting an example. "

    Ohhh no. absolutely not. That's actually THE central pillar of all extradition treaties, and is called the 'Doctrine of Speciality'. There's two aspects to it, and usually it's the other one that Assange makes claims about being violated.

    Basically put, a person extradited can only be taken to trial for the crimes listed in the extradition request. Country Alpha makes a request to country Zulu Person A is to be sent to country alpha, to face trial for charges 1-13. You can't slip person B in there, you can't decide that you'll send them on to country bravo, or add charges 14-42. That country, for those charges only, and afterwards, they get to leave the country.

    That's why Assange's claim of 'Sweden will send me to the US' is ludicrous, because it's specifically prohibited in all extradition treaties. That 'can' happen, but there's a specific process. Basically if it did happen, and Alpha wanted to send him on to Bravo, then it'd start a whole new process. In the claimed case, both the UK and Sweden would have new hearings, and we'd use the strictest aspects of the treaties (which is the Swedish treaty with the US by FAR) for both countries, and both countries would have to fully agree.

    that's why it doesn't happen EVER. ESpecially in Assange's case, since the Us-Sweden treaty prohibits extradition for 'political crimes', which these would be, so it'd be an automatic denial of extradition from both the UK and Sweden if the US asked SWeden to send him on.

    by comparison, the UK extradition treaty with the US is unique in that while the US has to show evidence to back up the charges and request in other countries, in the UK the DOJ just has to assert that relevant evidence does exist. It's an INCREDIBLY low bar and one the US would use if they had any desire for Assange during the 600+ days he was roaming free, before the Swedish extradition request became final (and thus no new request could be considered)

    That clear things up?

  16. LucreLout Silver badge

    Assange charged? Good! Hopefully this waste of (couch) space can sod off and give us all a well earned rest.

    I wonder what the cat-Ecuadorean for "Vapid, unintelligent, allegedly rapey personality vacuum" is, which presumably is the cats nickname for it's owner.

  17. CrispyD
    Joke

    Re: Vapid

    @LucreLout, according to google it's "Vacío, poco inteligente, supuestamente rapey, vacío de personalidad".

    Better yet, according to Translation Party, equilibrium is reached at "Sexual assault in the intellectual property rights, individual personality vacuum shit".

    I will no retire to the pub, and attempt to inject "Individual personality vacuum shit" into every conversation as my new favourite phrase.

    Bravo sir.

  18. Stevie Silver badge

    Vapid etc (4 Greengrocer LucreLout)

    cat's nickname for its owner

    8o)

  19. Geoffrey W Silver badge

    @Mr Lout

    Explain how Assange is preventing us from having a good rest. Are you really so obsessed with him that you lie awake at night fuming at his dastardly evasion of blind and pure justice? You need more love in your life. Get a cat.

    And because you dislike him so intensely you would like for him to be cast into the Kafkaesque darkness of the US security dungeons...On second thoughts, don't get a cat; it doesn't deserve you.

  20. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    "Assange charged? Good! Hopefully this waste of (couch) space can sod off and give us all a well earned rest."

    Unless the US really, really wants him and puts pressure on Ecuador to kick him out, then this changes nothing. And even if Ecuador do kick him out, the US is 3rd in line for possible court cases after Assange serves time for bail jumping, then gets sent to Sweden to answer their charges.

  21. Semtex451 Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    Could someone remind me who this bloke is, I've forgotten.

  22. Scorchio!!

    "Could someone remind me who this bloke is, I've forgotten."

    Umm. Isn't he a friend of that networking contractor who fled to Russia? Ah, Snowden?

  23. Jove Bronze badge

    "Could someone remind me who this bloke is, I've forgotten."

    A Massage Therapist, or something I think

  24. Mark 85 Silver badge

    Could someone remind me who this bloke is, I've forgotten.

    He's an attention whore. If he doesn't get it, he generates it on his own. So ignoring him doesn't stop him.

  25. ukgnome Silver badge

    Fingers crossed we can get shot of this pound shop bond villain wannabe

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No surprise

    It can't be any surprise that the USA have an interest in him. He made it his job to annoy them,

    This just shows his tactical brilliance in getting himself into a situation where he has to leave a country with a weak extradition treaty with the USA, hot footing it to a country which has not often prevented extradition to the USA that also has an extradition treaty with Sweden, then infringing contempt of court in that country, something which is taken very seriously, by hiding in an embassy entirely surrounded by a country that now has a live arrest warrant for him.

  27. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: No surprise

    It can't be any surprise that the USA have an interest in him. He made it his job to annoy them

    And then made the tactical error of supplying information to Trump (probably thinking that it would make him one of Trumps friends). Trouble is, Trump friendship is about as reliable as going to sea in a sieve..

  28. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Re: No surprise

    " then infringing contempt of court in that country, something which is taken very seriously, "

    First (or subsequent) offence for contempt of court/bail breaches in the UK is most usually a severe telling off and a slap on the wrist with a wet bus ticket - EVEN for someone with a laundry list of offences and a string of prison terms. Sainted Jools of Asshattedness is only getting attention because he craves it and ensures he gets it. This resulted in Wikileaks becoming the Julian Assange Electric Revelation and Travelling Apparition.

    It shouldn't be a surprise that he has charges under seal in US court. They'd have to be unsealed in order to begin any extradition proceedings unless he was "extraordinarily rendered" - which would trigger a shitstorm that even the USA wouldn't cope with.

    Until fairly reecently one of Julian's larger risks is that the courts would reject the Swedish arrest warrant but immigration would declare him undesireable and put him on a plane to Australia via the shortest available route (LAX) - Now that would be a plane to Perth, but the Australians are highly likely to simply grab him and put him on a plane to LAX themselves. He's a multiply convicted criminal hacker after all and they've long been at the USA's beck and call (see: 1975 Australian Constituional Crisis)

  29. Headley_Grange Silver badge

    Re: No surprise

    @Crazy

    But it's a good sieve, a great sieve. It's the best sieve ever and much better than Obama's sieve.

  30. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: No surprise

    "It can't be any surprise that the USA have an interest in him. He made it his job to annoy them,"

    And previously they punished him by ignoring him. Now they're rewarding him by actually paying him attention.

  31. Naughtyhorse

    Re: No surprise

    i do hope you are not casting the jumblies in the same vein as orange hitler...most offensive.

    also...when did assange lose the 'tm' honorific?

  32. Alister Silver badge

    That's unfortunate, it gives the whinging twat the opportunity for lots of "I told you so" smugness.

    I was hoping he would just whither away in obscurity.

  33. ici.chacal

    Guess he's screwed then, as he always knew he was...

    He's no choice but to stay in the embassy for the rest of his days then, or face an almost certain trip to the US. Could be worse though, at least he's not hiding in the Saudi embassy...

  34. macjules Silver badge

    Re: Guess he's screwed then, as he always knew he was...

    He wouldn't have to worry about cleaning up the toilet there, he would have been flushed down it long ago.

  35. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    Re: Guess he's screwed then, as he always knew he was...

    "Could be worse though, at least he's not hiding in the Saudi embassy."

    Is Trump friends with the Saudis or not at present (it's hard to keep track)? If so maybe he'll ask them to send a deputation to visit him.

  36. DougS Silver badge

    Why is he screwed?

    Given the location of and likely timing of the indictment (note the August 2018 date on the filing here) this is almost certainly in connection with the Mueller probe. That is, for his role in colluding with the Trump campaign on the timing of releases of damaging information about Hillary.

    Not sure what the penalties would be, but we're only talking a few years in a 'country club' prison that's probably not much worse than the room he's currently in at the embassy. And if he cooperated he might get away with probation or a simple ban on future entry to the US. Sentencing himself to life in the embassy would be his choice, he wouldn't be facing hard time or a decades long sentence even if he refused to cooperate - and I don't know why he would refuse, it isn't like he had any prior relationship or allegiance to the anyone involved.

  37. Geoffrey W Silver badge
    Terminator

    Re: Guess he's screwed then, as he always knew he was...

    Yeah, murder by the state is always a good thing; especially for those with character flaws such as, oooh, lets think, quite few sociopaths in this very thread. You beautiful people you.

  38. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: Guess he's screwed then, as he always knew he was...

    "Could be worse though, at least he's not hiding in the Saudi embassy..."

    I was having similar thoughts, but you neat me to it :-)

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    Too bad people judge him for the character he is and not for what he has done. No, I don't mean the alleged rape case which Swedes closed (after they questioned him). And so conveniently reopened later on.

    He showed what US think of the rest of the world.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: Meh

    Too bad people judge him for the character he is and not for what he has done.

    What, you mean breaking in everywhere and than quickly making it look like it was for some worthy cause to avoid being charged like everyone else who has been caught?

    If there was ever a good reason for Wikileaks, St Jules™ has pretty much destroyed that with his antics.

  41. Andrew Norton

    Re: Meh

    "No, I don't mean the alleged rape case which Swedes closed (after they questioned him). And so conveniently reopened later on."

    That's true, if by 'closed' you mean 'prosecutor thought the women wouldn't go through with it" and if by "conveniently reopened" you mean "women got a lawyer and appealed her decision to close it to a more senior prosecutor who agreed that the first prosecutors reasoning was stupid".

    Or do you mean 'conveneiently ' in the sense of assange fleeing SWeden the day before an interview that had been planned more than a week before, just hours after his lawyer was told he'd be arrested at that interview? or do you mean convenient int he way that said lawyer said he never talked to Assange, between arranging the interview, and the day after the interview and didn't even try?

    Or do you mean convenient like how at his first extradition hearing all his expert witnesses were strongly denouncing the treatment of Assange based entirely on what Assange's lawyer had told them? (fun fact, they basically turned on him when they had evidence that Assange's lawyers had delibereately - 'conveniently'? - kept from them.

  42. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Re: Meh

    > Too bad people judge him for the character he is and not for what he has done.

    Or to put it another way, it's too bad that Assange took something good like the ideal of transparency driven by Wikileaks and then tainted it horrendously with his own character.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You're so vain...

    you even think this court order is about you...

  44. Stevie Silver badge

    Bah!

    That cat has secrets! A campaign to persuade the Ecuadorans to take the cat to a shelter must be set in motion soonest.

    Then, a special team of fur-work experts can spirit the cat to a secret location where it can be plied with tuna, shrimp, long pieces of string and all the catnip mice it can sniff in an effort to loosen its tongue.

    We may yet have found the chink in the vile Assange's armor!

  45. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

    Re: Bah!

    a special team of fur-work experts can spirit the cat to a secret location

    So, theoretically speaking, would the contact details of an elite squad of former military felines who escaped from unjust imprisonment and now roam the country solving crimes be of any interest?

    Not that I know about such a team though. Obviously not!

    (I have no wish to face weaponised hairballs being aimed at me)

  46. Chris G Silver badge

    Re: Bah!

    "Then, a special team of fur-work experts can spirit the cat to a secret location where it can be plied with tuna, shrimp, long pieces of string and all the catnip mice it can sniff in an effort to loosen its tongue."

    The above probably would not work with this cat; it has clearly been sold a duff villain when it would have been expecting to have the run of a hollowed out volcano and a tank full piranhas to taunt.

    Embassy cupboards would not rate that highly as a des res for a cat.

  47. Jove Bronze badge

    Re: Bah!

    The Cat is a plant - it has been recording Assange's every move since it arrived.

  48. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Re: Bah!

    "So, theoretically speaking, would the contact details of an elite squad of former military felines who escaped from unjust imprisonment and now roam the country solving crimes be of any interest?"

    The C Team?

  49. the Jim bloke Bronze badge

    Re: Bah!

    a special team of fur-work experts

    Your mission, should you choose to accept..no.

    Wanders off and commences own licking genitals

  50. gc23

    Re: Bah!

    I don't know if the cat has Assange's tongue or not but it could be a cat-tastrophe...

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