I suppose we’ll just file this one under “oops.” Or possibly not.
During proceedings in a completely unrelated case, an Assistant U.S. Attorney inadvertently revealed to a judge that a sealed arrest warrant had been filed against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. There’s no indication of what they’re specifically thinking of charging him with, but it clearly shows that Assange wasn’t just paranoid over all these years when he was saying that we were coming after him. (Remember, kids… just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you.) This is going to complicate Assange’s position considerably. (WaPo)
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged under seal, prosecutors inadvertently revealed in a recently unsealed court filing — a development that could significantly advance the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and have major implications for those who publish government secrets.
The disclosure came in a filing in a case unrelated to Assange. Assistant U.S. Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, urging a judge to keep the matter sealed, wrote 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.” Later, Dwyer wrote the charges would “need to remain sealed until Assange is arrested.”
Dwyer is also assigned to the WikiLeaks case. People familiar with the matter said what Dwyer was disclosing was true, but unintentional.
As we’ve discussed here previously, Ecuador has grown tired of Assange living in their embassy of late, with their new president referring to him as ‘a stone in their shoe.’ There have been repeated rumors that the governments of Ecuador and Spain have been in discussions aimed at finding a way to offload Assange and make him somebody else’s problem. The Brits have kept tabs on the embassy, but supposedly only to pick him up on a relatively minor charge of dodging arrest.
But through it all, the Wikileaks founder has insisted that if he sets foot outside he will be transferred to the United States and face serious prison time. Turns out he was right all along. Still, the big question is what he might be charged with and what stories he could tell. The WaPo article suggests that his potential arrest could be related to the Mueller probe and offer insight into possible ties between the Russian hackers and the Trump campaign. But to borrow a phrase from CNN, they seem to be suggesting this without evidence.
I’m going to take one short trip down conspiracy lane and offer an alternative explanation for how this screw-up took place. Could this have been an intentional “mistake” in terms of leaking out the existence of the warrant? I’m just wondering if it was designed to force Ecuador’s hand and try to flush Assange out of cover. Probably not, but stranger things have happened and there’s been no progress in this case for half a decade.
The question still remains has to how we get Assange into the hands of United States agents and back to our country. After six long years, Julian Assange has clearly shown that he has plenty of patience. Ecuador seems less interested in helping us than simply removing a nuisance from their own doorstep. I’m sure the Brits wouldn’t mind cooperating, but if they’re the ones who pick him up, he could easily have years of appeals to work through before we could finally extradite him.
If I had to guess, I’d say that the revelation of this arrest warrant isn’t going to substantially change anything, at least in the short term. Assange will likely stay put in the embassy and the only ones who have the ability to alter the situation are in Ecuador.