US prosecutors are preparing to pursue a criminal case against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, escalating a long battle targeting his anti-secrecy group even as he remains holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.
The text was discovered in an August 22 filing by assistant US attorney Kellen S. Dwyer, as part of an ongoing case in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Assange and his supporters have periodically said USA authorities had filed secret criminal charges against him, an assertion against which some U.S. officials pushed back until recently.
In 2010 the United States of America launched a criminal investigation against Assange after Wikileaks leaked classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department by 274 of its consulates, embassies, and diplomatic missions around the world.
The still unsealed charges against Assange were disclosed by Assistant US Attorney Kellen Dwyer as she made a filing in the unrelated case and urged a judge to keep that filing sealed. The Assange case has been closely followed by advocates for press freedom.
The unintentional disclosure appears to have occurred due to a copy-and-paste mistake, reports both and.
United States officials have previously acknowledged federal prosecutors based in Alexandria, Virginia, have been conducting a lengthy criminal investigation into WikiLeaks and its founder.
The ongoing investigation into ties between Russia and the 2016 presidential campaign has suggested that WikiLeaks was used by Russian intelligence to distribute hacked material.
Since then, Assange's status has remained in question but his welcome in the embassy and by the government of Ecuador has worn thin.
"That was not the intended name for this filing", the spokesperson said.
Also on Thursday, The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources in Washington who said the Justice Department was optimistic that it would be able to prosecute Assange.
The Washington Post reported Thursday night that Assange has, in fact, been charged, citing the inadvertent court disclosure as well as people familiar with the matter, but precisely what criminal charges he faces remains unclear.
It was not immediately clear what Assange has been charged with.
Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the Eastern District of Virginia, told CBS News on Friday that the court filing, "was made in error".
Swedish authorities dropped their investigation into the case a year ago and withdrew a European arrest warrant.
The case at issue concerns a defendant named Seitu Sulayman Kokayi, a 29-year-old teacher who has since been indicted on charges of enticing a 15-year-old girl to commit sex acts and to produce child pornography.
One of Assange's lawyers told The Guardian newspaper that the suggestion his client had been charged with a crime was troubling.