US Hits WikiLeaks Founder Assange With 18-Count Indictment

May 23, 2019 Updated: May 23, 2019

The Justice Department leveled an 18-count superseding indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on May 23.

The new charges include conspiring with former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to obtain classified materials, compromising sources in the Middle East and China, and conspiracy to hack into a more secure military database.

Manning provided to Assange and WikiLeaks databases containing approximately 90,000 Afghanistan War-related significant activity reports, 400,000 Iraq War-related significant activities reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, and 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables.

Assange started publishing the files via Wikileaks in 2010, which resulted in Manning being court-martialed and jailed.

Assange isn’t being charged for being a publisher, or for passively obtaining or receiving classified information, said Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

“The indictment alleges that Assange published in bulk, hundreds of thousands of stolen classified documents. But the United States has not charged Assange for that,” Terwilliger told reporters on May 23. “Rather, the United States has only charged Assange for publishing a narrow set of classified documents in which Assange also allegedly published the unredacted names of innocent people, who risked their safety and freedom to provide information to the United States and its allies.”

Terwilliger said the sources were in China, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

“The indictment alleges that Assange knew that his publication of these sources endangered them,” he said.

John Demers, assistant attorney general for national security, said some of the documents published on WikiLeaks had been found in Osama Bin Laden’s compound.

The WikiLeaks leaks were one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.

Each charge, except the hacking charge, carries a 10-year maximum sentence.

Assange was arrested in London on April 11 after spending seven years living in the Ecuador Embassy.

He is currently serving a sentence in the United Kingdom for failure to surrender to UK authorities in 2012. UK authorities will decide on his extradition to the United States.

Follow Jasper on Twitter: @JasperFakkert
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