The US Justice Department is apparently poised to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, though it remains unclear whether the charges have already been filed or not.
This development came to light on Thursday purely by accident when prosecutors pursuing an unrelated sex-crimes case submitted a filing which contains two references to Assange, CNBC reports.
According to the media outlet, the prosecutors wrote that the complaint "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", and 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."
Earlier, Assange’s lawyer Carlos Poveda told Sputnik that Ecuador might extradite his client, suggesting Quito might have reached an agreement for this with London and Washington.
Assange has been residing in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012 when he fled there to avoid prosecution by the Swedish authorities in a sex assault case. The sex offence charges against Assange have eventually been dropped but the whistleblower has not left the diplomatic mission, where he was granted asylum, over fears that he might be seized by the UK authorities and extradited to the United States where he is wanted for leaking classified documents.
In October, media revealed that the embassy introduced home rules that Assange should follow, that included restrictions on the whistleblower’s communications and visits. Assange’s defence team subsequently sued Ecuador over the conditions of his stay in the embassy, which, according to them, violate the WikiLeaks founder’s rights.