Julian Assange will be extradited to the United States after reportedly being indicted by the U.S. Justice Department, his lawyer said this week.
The WikiLeaks founder appears to be headed to criminal charges and will soon be sent to the United States to face them, the Russian television NTV reported via Twitter. Citing Assange’s lawyer Carlos Poveda, the report claimed that Ecuador has plans to extradite Assange and that there was already an agreement in place between Ecuador and the United States. Julian Assange has lived in Ecuador’s London embassy since 2012 when he fled there to escape sexual assault charges that have since been dropped.
The U.S. Department of Justice inadvertently revealed this week that it had prepared charges against Assange. As the BBC reported, a filing in a separate court order showed that charges were prepared against the WikiLeaks founder. Court documents showed that this separate filing “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.”
Assange was a centerpiece of the Steele dossier, a report compiled about alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russia during the 2016 election. WikiLeaks was identified as an intermediary through which Russia published private emails from Trump’s opponents, though Assange has denied that Russia was the source of the stolen emails.
Assange and his supporters have maintained that he is a journalist and that WikiLeaks is a nonpartisan organization that publishes verified documents from governments across the world. But critics say that Assange’s outfit has become a de facto arm of Russia, often publishing materials that hurt Russia’s opponents while often holding its fire on Russia and its allies.
Critics also say WikiLeaks’ actions during the 2016 campaign were meant to hurt Hillary Clinton and to help Trump be elected, which was reportedly the aim of Russia in its interference in the 2016 election. The first batch of emails from Clinton’s campaign chief John Podesta was published on the evening of October 7, just hours after the release of Trump’s damaging Access Hollywood tape.
Julian Assange has been charged in the United States in secret, according to an inadvertent court filing in an unrelated case https://t.co/U3GmU2O2m1— The Times of London (@thetimes) November 16, 2018
WikiLeaks has been at the center of the Russia investigation in recent weeks, especially through Republican operative Roger Stone. As CNN reported, Stone received text messages ahead of WikiLeaks’ release of stolen emails during the 2016 campaign.
It was not yet clear what charges Julian Assange would face, or exactly when he might be extradited to the United States.