The United States Department of Justice charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with 18 counts on the alleged violation of the Espionage Act.
A federal grand jury returned an 18-count superseding indictment that charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with counts related to illegally
British authorities arrested Assange on April 11 at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after Ecuador withdrew asylum after seven years. Assange was arrested in London on a US warrant charging him over his alleged role in a massive leak of military and diplomatic documents in 2010.
“A federal grand jury returned an 18-count superseding indictment today charging Julian P. Assange, 47, the founder of WikiLeaks, with offenses that relate to Assange’s alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.” reads the DoJ.
“The superseding indictment alleges that Assange was complicit with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S.
Wikileaks founder is currently facing extradition to the United States for his role in one of the largest compromises of classified information
Early May, Julian Assange has been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for breaching his bail conditions in 2012 and finding asylum into Ecuador’s London embassy for more than seven years.
The superseding indictment charges Assange on 17 new counts under the Espionage Act, it accuses him of obtaining and unlawfully publishing classified documents related to the national defense
This is the first time that the US DoJ charges people under the 102-year-old Act that persecutes the disclosure of national defense information that could be used against the United States.
“After agreeing to receive classified documents from Manning and aiding, abetting, and causing Manning to provide classified documents, the superseding indictment charges that Assange then published on WikiLeaks classified documents that contained the unredacted names of human sources who provided information to United States forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to U.S. State Department diplomats around the world. “continues the DoJ, ” These human sources included local Afghans and Iraqis, journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents from repressive regimes. According to the superseding indictment, Assange’s actions risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries and put the unredacted named human sources at a grave and imminent risk of serious physical harm and/or arbitrary detention. “
The indictment also states that the Wikileaks founder had “repeatedly encouraged sources with access to classified information to steal and provide it to Wikileaks to disclose.”
In response to the indictment, WikiLeaks, Freedom of the Press Foundation, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) raised concerns about the implications of the charges on press freedom and the First Amendment because Assange is considered by many a journalist.
Anyway, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers declared that Assange should not be considered a journalist.