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US ‘Secretly Charged’ Assange, Prosecutor Accidentally Reveals

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Julian Assange has been already charged by the US, but the case will remain sealed until the arrest of the whistleblower, WikiLeaks has revealed citing court filings unrelated to its co-founder.

“…no other procedure is likely to keep confidential the fact that Assange has been charged,” assistant US Attorney Kellen S. Dwyer wrote urging a judge to keep the matter sealed. However, the exact nature of the alleged charges against the whistleblower was not immediately revealed and is not to be disclosed until Assange’s arrest, according to the document.

WikiLeaks tweeted the document on Thursday, saying it was an “apparent cut-and-paste error.” The same court filings were cited in a Washington Post report. The paper said citing its sources that what Dwyer said was true, but the disclosure was unintentional.

The US attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia, where the document revealing the alleged charges was originally filed, said the “court filing was made in error,” according to the Washington Post report.

Earlier, the Wall Street Journal reported citing sources that prosecutors in the US were discussing the possibility of charging Assange with a number of crimes which, they hope, would see him expelled from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. While the DOJ has been investigating Assange for eight years, the prosecutors have yet to agree on the precise charges the 47-year-old might face. The possibility of charging the whistleblower with violating the Espionage Act has come up in discussions, WSJ notes.

The DOJ could choose to prosecute Assange in connection with Chelsea Manning’s disclosure of some 750,000 military and diplomatic documents to WikiLeaks back in 2010. In particular, the publication of classified US military footage entitled ‘Collateral Murder’ made headlines at the time, after it showed a US Apache helicopter opening fire on Iraqi civilians.

“Prosecutors have also considered tying Mr. Assange to foreign intelligence services,” people familiar with the discussions told the publication. If so, charges against the WikiLeaks editor could be potentially linked to the notorious probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, who is struggling to find proof of Russia’s ‘interference’ in the 2016 US election.

WikiLeaks found itself at the center of the probe after publishing internal emails from the Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta ahead of the election. Mueller has already indicted 12 Russians in July on charges related to the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and Assange could potentially come next, even though WikiLeaks always insisted their source had nothing to do with Moscow.

The Justice Department is also feeling “increasingly optimistic” about the possibility of having Assange extradited to the US, the Washington insiders believe, especially because of the growing rift between Assange and Ecuador’s leadership.

The whistleblower has become a thorn in President of Ecuador Lenin Moreno’s side, ever since the new leader assumed office in May of last year. Throughout this time, Moreno has made every effort to make sure the Australian’s stay at Ecuador’s UK embassy comes to an end as soon as possible.

Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack, however, told the WSJ that he had “heard nothing from authorities suggesting that a criminal case against Mr. Assange is imminent.”

Assange was granted asylum inside Ecuador’s UK embassy in August 2012, avoiding extradition to Sweden. While Sweden has since dropped the case against him, Assange was forced to remain inside the embassy because he is still subject to arrest in the UK for jumping bail six years ago. The 47-year-old fears that, once British authorities detain him, he will immediately be extradited to the US where he is likely to face serious charges over his role at WikiLeaks.

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Rome’s trash crisis sparks health fears

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Landfills in flames and rats feasting on waste in the streets have sparked health fears in Rome, as doctors warn families to steer clear of disease-ridden curbside garbage and locals launch a disgusting dumpster contest online.

Crowds of summer tourists are forced to navigate overflowing bins in the stifling heat, as the pungent perfume of neglected garbage draws scavenging animals and the threat of disease to the Eternal City and locals fume over the city’s refuse management.  

Rome’s chief physician Antonio Magi has issued a “hygiene alert”, telling AFP this could be upgraded to a health warning, with disease spread through the faeces of insects and animals banqueting on rotting waste. His warning prompted local prosecutors to open an investigation this week into the city’s refuse collection.

In the meantime, furious Rome residents have launched a contest on Twitter to find the most fetid dustbins.

Discarded pizza boxes or the remains of spaghetti lunches and fruit rinds draw opportunistic seagulls, rats and even wild boars to the streets of Rome, with wolves also spotted closer to the city’s outskirts than ever before.

Adding to the indignation of Rome residents is the steep price they are paying for their garbage to rot in the streets.  

The city spent more than 597 euros per inhabitant on household waste treatment in 2017 — by far the highest in the country, ahead of Venice (353 euros) and Florence (266 euros), according to a report by the Openpolis Foundation.

But the city lacks infrastructure: of its three main landfills, one has closed and the others were ravaged by fire in recent months.   

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Europe: Massive Rise in Central American Asylum Seekers as Trump Tightens U.S. Border

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The number of Central Americans claiming asylum in the European Union has massively increased as President Donald Trump has moved to tighten America’s southern border, with Venezuelans now the second-largest demographic of arrivals after Syrians.

According to Britain’s left-wing Guardian newspaper, the European Asylum Support Office is attributing an 11 per cent rise in political asylum claims over the last year to “people fleeing economic disasters, political repression and criminal violence in Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru.”

Asylum claims by nationals of Venezuela, where the state socialist regime of Nicolas Maduro admired by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is becoming increasingly repressive, reached 18,400 between January and May — roughly double the number for the same period in 2018.

Over a longer timeframe, the rise is even more striking, with asylum claims by Central Americans up an astonishing 4,000 per cent over the course of the last decade.

Spain, the former colonial power for much of Latin America, is the most popular destination for asylum seekers — a state of affairs the Socialist Party government may not be too displeased with, given its belief that Europe needs “new blood” and apparent embrace of its status as the new destination of choice for illegal migrants crossing the sea from North Africa since Italy’s Matteo Salvini began taking a firm stance against people-smugglers and migrant transport NGOs.

The Iberian country is not necessarily the easiest country for asylum seekers to have their claims approved, however, as it does not recognise claims from people claiming to be fleeing non-state actors, such as cartels and the drug gangs known as maras.

Other EU member-states, such as Belgium, are more open in what they will recognise as a legitimate asylum claim, meaning the Benelux country is now the third most popular destination for Salvadoreans behind Spain and Italy.

Susana Parraga, who works for Caritas International in Belgium, told the Guardian that such asylum seekers “receive housing, food, medical follow-up, legal assistance, help with learning one of the three official languages of the country and the right to social support”, and suggested that all EU member-states are obliged to offer such guarantees under the bloc’s reception directives.

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Sweden Man Blames Ramadan After Assaulting Wife and Children

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A man living in Sweden was found guilty of physically abusing his wife and children but blamed his actions on being hungry due to Ramadan fasting.

The unidentified man, who lives in the south-west Swedish province of Dalsland, was sentenced to six months in prison after being convicted of five separate counts of assault, Swedish radio broadcaster Sveriges Radio reports.

The man denied culpability, claiming that intense hunger, due to fasting during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, had made it so that he could not control his own actions. He was accused of multiple assaults which included shoving paper into the mouth of his two-year-old daughter and beating her on the hands and feet.

The defence of “Ramadan rage” was also used by another Muslim man in France as part of a case where he was accused of shaking his five-month-old daughter to death last year. The 42-year-old man was said to have been angered by the infant crying and threw her on a hotel bed twice, with the child bouncing off the bed the second time and landing head-first into the floor. The child was later taken to a hospital with a skull fracture and died.

Earlier this year, French business owners in the city of Montpellier went as far as demanding the government provide extra security to their businesses ahead of Ramadan, arguing that they had seen an increase in violence during the holy month for the last four years.

“Ramadan rage” has not been limited to Europe. Within the first three weeks of Ramadan this year, 20 countries saw over 100 jihadist attacks with a death toll of 531 people and another 556 maimed.

Islamic State and the Afghanistan-based Taliban accounted for around 30 per cent of the total number of deaths during the three-week period.

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