The Department of Justice hinted at the possibility of recently arrested WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange facing further charges in federal court filings Wednesday.
Certain details involving the government’s case against Mr. Assange should “remain under seal because it contains nonpublic information about an ongoing criminal investigation,” wrote G. Zachary Terwilliger, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.
Mr. Terwilliger made the request in a motion that sought to unseal several court documents dating back to Dec. 21, 2017, when the Justice Department secretly filed a criminal complaint charging the Australian-born WikiLeaks leader with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer hacking.
The motion said that several documents in Mr. Assange’s case could be made public in full, but that prosecutors would need to enter a redacted version of one of the filings to prevent the disclosure of information involving an unspecified ongoing probe.
Prosecutors subsequently entered a sanitized version of the document — a motion to seal originally filed in full alongside the criminal complaint in late 2017 — containing several lines of redacted text in which Dana Boente, Mr. Terwilliger’s predecessor atop the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, argued for keeping the case under wraps.
“The government is currently investigating WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange,” Mr. Boente started an otherwise unreadable paragraph that appears in the motion’s partially redacted “Reasons for Sealing” section.
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Mr. Assange, 47, was arrested last Thursday after spending nearly seven years living under political asylum inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The Justice Department unsealed the criminal complaint moments later and announced the U.S. would seek his extradition.
Prosecutors in Alexandria have charged Mr. Assange in connection with allegedly attempting to help former Army analyst Chelsea Manning crack a password in 2010 that would have allowed her to access documents desired by WikiLeaks. Manning, 31, ultimately admittedly to leaking a trove to classified material to Mr. Assange’s website and was convicted of related crimes in 2013.
It was not immediately clear if the nonpublic information shielded by prosecutors related to Manning’s disclosures or other matters under investigation.
The Justice Department has been investigating WikiLeaks since at least 2010, and prosecutors have acknowledged a handful of related cases in the years since. Several Russian military officials have been charged as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 U.S. presidential race for allegedly stealing Democratic Party material later published by WikiLeaks, and Joshua Schulte, a former CIA engineer, is accused of leaking agency hacking tools to WikiLeaks and has been charged by federal prosecutors in Manhattan. He has pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors have 60 days since Mr. Assange’s arrest to outline the case for his extradition, including any additional charges. Joshua Stueve, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, declined to comment.