Prosecutors have confirmed that there’s an “ongoing criminal investigation” that relates to Julian Assange’s case, according to an assertion they made in court on Wednesday.
The Justice Department wrote to a judge in the Eastern District of Virginia that it needed to keep a document in the case from more than a year ago still secret because of the ongoing activity.
The extent of the continuing investigative work around WikiLeaks and Assange is still unknown – though it confirms CNN and other news outlets’ reporting in recent days that WikiLeaks is connected to at least one probe that could result in more criminal charges.
This admission by prosecutors of the ongoing investigation bolsters CNN’s reporting Tuesday that several tentacles related to WikiLeaks – including the pursuit of testimony from a former Roger Stone associate, and a case about a leak of CIA documents – are still active.
The court chose to make public the documents in Assange’s case Wednesday at the Justice Department’s request.
In all, the court made public nine filings in the Assange case on Wednesday.
The prosecutors originally sought to keep the documents they filed as early as December 2017 under seal until Assange was arrested and extradited. He has been arrested in the UK but has not been extradited to the US to face his charge, and his lawyers have denounced the US law enforcement effort toward Assange as an attack on the First Amendment.
In December 2017, prosecutors told a federal judge they were afraid Assange might flee if he knew about the charge he was about to face – even though he was living under the protection of Ecuador in the country’s embassy in London. A few months later, when a grand jury in Virginia indicted Assange, prosecutors kept it secret because of that same fear – and that they believed evidence could be tampered with or destroyed and witnesses may be intimidated, according to the unsealed documents.
Prosecutors also mentioned “affiliates” of Assange who may be under investigation, according to another newly unsealed document from more than a year ago.