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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The Justice Department has prepped an indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to documents from an unsealed court filing, the New York Times reports.

Why it matters: The disclosure was unintentional, prosecutors say, and was inadvertently revealed in an unrelated case. But while the specifics of the charges against Assange remain unclear, they could significantly advance special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, given WikiLeaks published thousands of emails from Democrats hacked by Russian intelligence. The nature of the indictment could also change future procedures for those who publish government secrets.

What they're saying:

  • Joshua Stueve, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia: “The court filing was made in error. That was not the intended name for this filing."
  • Barry Pollack, an American lawyer representing Assange, told the Times: “The news that criminal charges have apparently been filed against Mr. Assange is even more troubling than the haphazard manner in which that information has been revealed. The government bringing criminal charges against someone for publishing truthful information is a dangerous path for a democracy to take.”

Details: While it's unclear what charges Assange could face, the Washington Post notes that, in the past, "prosecutors had contemplated pursuing a case involving conspiracy, theft of government property or violating the Espionage Act."

  • "But ... [i]n the Obama administration, the Justice Department had concluded that pursuing Assange would be akin to prosecuting a news organization. In the Trump administration, though, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions had taken a more aggressive stance and vowed to crack down on all government leaks."

Go deeper

Updated 58 mins ago - Science

China launches first astronauts to new space station

The manned Shenzhou-12 spacecraft from China's Manned Space Agency onboard the Long March-2F rocket launches at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in Jiuquan, Gansu province, China, on Thursday morning Beijing time. Photo: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

China's Shenzhou 12 mission carrying three astronauts launched into orbit on Thursday morning Beijing time.

Why it matters: Astronauts Nie Haisheng, Liu Boming and Tang Hongbo are set to occupy China's new space station. This will be the country's longest crewed space mission ever and the first in almost five years.

Biden's two-step negotiating process

President Biden departs Geneva. Photo: Martial Trezzini/Pool/AFP via Getty

President Biden's summit "reset" was less about trying to make a friend out of Russia than reframing what the U.S. believes can be accomplished by engaging with President Vladimir Putin.

Driving the news: The Geneva meeting yielded no immediate breakthroughs beyond agreements about ambassadors returning to work and plans to launch talks on nuclear security. But in classic Biden fashion — aviators on, jacket off and a one-liner about invading Russia he had to clarify was a joke — the U.S. president used a post-summit news conference to explain his approach.

Scoop: NRCC to accept cryptocurrency donations

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Republicans' House campaign arm will begin accepting contributions in cryptocurrency, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: The National Republican Congressional Committee is the first national party committee to solicit crypto donations. That puts it at the forefront of a disruptive financial technology that could test campaign finance rules.

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