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US Judge Puts Off Revealing Charges Against Julian Assange

FILE - WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange gestures to supporters outside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, May 19, 2017.

A federal judge deferred action on deciding whether to reveal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, the existence of which was accidentally made public.

Free-press activists had asked U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema of the Eastern District of Virginia to unseal the criminal complaint after prosecutors in an unrelated case unintentionally mentioned charges against Assange.

Prosecutors opposed the case, arguing the public does not have a right to know if a person has been charged until they have been arrested, while claiming the accidental reference to charges does not necessarily mean Assange has been charged.

Various media outlets have reported Assange is facing charges.

The nature and existence of the charges are of particular concern to Assange. The Australian has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London under a grant of asylum since 2012 over concerns he could be deported to the United States to face charges related to his role in various leaks of classified government information.

The move comes the same day the Guardian reported former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort met with Assange at the embassy around the same time he joined the president’s election bid. Months later, Wikileaks released a trove of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Wikileaks hit back aggressively on Twitter, describing the journalist behind the story as a “serial fabricator.”

“@WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange,” the organization tweeted.