Federal judge says charges against Assange to remain sealed for now

Federal judge says charges against Assange to remain sealed for now
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Federal Judge Leonie Brinkema said federal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will remain sealed for the time being, adding that she will rule later as to whether or not the public has a right to see the documents.

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The comments come after a recently revealed court filing showed U.S. prosecutors have pressed sealed charges against Assange. Details about the charges remain unknown.

"This is an interesting case, to say the least," Brinkema said Tuesday, The Washington Post reported.

"Obviously, some kind of mistake has been made," Brinkema added, referring to the government's exposure of Assange's name.

"Given the fact that this statement does appear in a government filing, and given that everybody knows where this man is, what is the rationale for sealing the charge?”

Brinkema told the Post that she knew of no other instance in which a state was forced to unseal a charging document before the defendant's arrest.

The Post reports that attorneys for the nonprofit pushing for the unsealing of the charges, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, plan to file new documents.

"The filing, inadvertent or not ... confirms the speculation” that Assange has been charged with a crime, the group's legal director Katie Townsend said in court.

“At a minimum, Mr. Assange knows that he has been charged," she said.

Therefore, she argued, any reason for keeping the case sealed has “evaporated.”

U.S. Attorney Gordon Kromberg asserted that it has not been confirmed that Assange has been charged, according to the Post. The paper notes that officials previously told it that the charges were filed.

“Any discussion of why it would be sealed cannot be done in a public forum,” he said. “This court ... doesn’t know what needs to be said.”

The man representing Assange, Barry Pollack, said that he will make a motion to intervene with the proceedings.

“Mr. Assange as a journalist is certainly aligned with the Reporters Committee,” he said.