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Prosecutors Say Keep Julian Assange Charges Sealed -- or What Charges?

Lawyering can be so contradictory.

"Not guilty," advises the criminal defense attorney for a killer caught in the act. "In the alternative," says the litigator who argues both sides.

So it's business as usual for prosecutors who won't say whether they have indicted Julian Assange. At the same time, they oppose unsealing any indictment that may have been filed against him.

Wiki/DOJ Leaks

Prosecutors in Alexandria, Virginia are fighting a request from journalists who have asked a federal judge to unseal any pending indictment against Assange. The government attorneys say a document filed in an unrelated criminal case -- which revealed a sealed indictment against the Wikileaks founder -- was an "unintentional error."

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press wants Judge Leonie Brinkema to unseal the court records, "including the docket and any criminal complaint, indictment or other charging document" related to any charges against Assange. The prosecutors say the "unintentional" disclosure does not mean that any charges exist, but if they do, the lawyers want them to remain sealed.

Of course, the backstory has been leaking all over the internet. Various news organizations had earlier reported that the Department of Justice secretly filed charges against the Wikileaks founder, who is living in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London.

The New York Times said prosecutors started drafting a complaint over the summer, but they inadvertently filed it under the wrong name. In United States of America v. Kokayi, the complaint says the record should "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."

Meanwhile, Manafort

Meanwhile, Paul Manafort reportedly had secret meetings with Assange just before Manafort became Donald Trump's campaign manager.

The Guardian said Manafort -- who was later convicted of income tax and money laundering crimes -- met with the Wikileaks founder in the spring of 2016. Months later, Wikileaks released email from the Democratic National Committee that was hacked by Russians.

Special counsel Robert Mueller has indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers for the hack, and this week accused Manafort of lying to his investigators.

Manafort has denied the allegations. Or in the alternative...

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