WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has prepared an indictment against the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, marking a drastic escalation of the government’s yearslong battle with him and his anti-secrecy group.
It was not clear if prosecutors have filed charges against Mr. Assange. The indictment came to light late Thursday through an unrelated court filing in which prosecutors inadvertently mentioned charges against him.
“The court filing was made in error,” said Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia. “That was not the intended name for this filing.”
Seamus Hughes, a terrorism expert at George Washington University who closely tracks court cases, uncovered the filing and posted it on Twitter.
Mr. Assange has lived for years in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London and would have to be arrested and extradited if he were to face charges in federal court, altogether a multistep diplomatic and legal process.