Justice Department Announces Replacement Charge Against Wikileaks’ Assange

The Justice Department announced a substitute indictment in the case against the WikiLeaks founder on Wednesday. Julian AssangeJulian Paul AssangeMueller investigated if Trump misled him in WikiLeaks question in Russia, investigates Mueller’s report relaunched with fewer redactions after legal battle FBI releases documents showing communications from Roger Stone and Julian Assange MORE, alleging that he intentionally worked with hackers affiliated with the “LulzSec” and “Anonymous” groups to identify and publish confidential information.

The new accusation, broadcast by a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, added no charges to the 18 existing charges filed against Assange last year, but alleged that Assange and WikiLeaks actively recruited hackers to provide documents to WikiLeaks.

Assange allegedly provided the leader of the hacking group “LulzSec” with a list of groups to target in 2012 for information to post on the WikiLeaks platform.

The new indictment alleges that, in one case, Assange gave the LulzSec leader specific documents and PDF files to attack and send to WikiLeaks, and WikiLeaks eventually released information obtained from a US intelligence company by a hacker associated with LulzSec and with Anonymous.

“For information to post on the WikiLeaks website, Assange recruited sources and predicted WikiLeaks’ success in part with recruiting sources to illegally circumvent legal information safeguards, including classification restrictions and computer restrictions. and the network, “reads the indictment. This was done with the intention of publishing the information online.

The 18 charges filed last year alleged that Assange worked with the former army intelligence analyst. Chelsea ManningChelsea Elizabeth Manning Defense at Night: The National Guard activated to fight the coronavirus | Pentagon ‘fairly safe’ North Korea has cases | General says Iran’s threat remains “very high” after US attacks The Hill’s Morning Report: Coronavirus tests Washington partisan judge ordering Chelsea Manning’s release from jail MORE in 2010 to obtain and disclose “confidential national defense information” through conspiracy to crack a password linked to a Department of Defense computer.

WikiLeaks has released thousands of pages of material obtained from Manning, including details on Guantanamo Bay detainees and combat guidelines on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

If convicted, Assange faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for each of the 18 existing charges brought against him, except for an alleged conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, for which Assange could face up to five years in prison.

Assange is currently detained in the United Kingdom after being evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy, ​​where he took refuge for several years. The United States has requested the extradition of Assange.

Manning was released in prison in March after being jailed since May 2019 for refusing to appear before the grand jury involved in the prosecution against Assange.

A federal judge ruled that his testimony was unnecessary, but ordered him to pay a fine of $ 256,000. The ruling came the day after reports emerged that Manning had attempted suicide while in custody.

Previous charges brought against Assange and Manning sparked debate over the publication of classified materials and whether the case could have a chilling effect on the journalists who publish these documents.

Glenn Greenwald, co-founding editor of The Intercept, tweeted on Wednesday after the charges were published that replaced the charges as a “severe” threat to press freedom.

“Trump’s DOJ attempt to jail Julian Assange for working with his source to publish classified documents exposing US war crimes is the US’s most severe threat to press freedom since 2016,” Greenwald tweeted. “It is disgusting to see so many journalists ignore it and so many liberals encourage it.”