Julian Assange faces 17 new charges under US Espionage Act

By indicting Assange with 18 charges under the Espionage Act, each of which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years, the US has considerably raised the stakes.

Barry Pollack said the indictment charges Assange with "encouraging sources to provide him truthful information and for publishing that information".

Those charges including unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents, the Justice Department said Thursday.

Law enforcement officials said on Thursday that the State Department had pleaded with Assange not to reveal the identities of such sources, but Wikileaks ignored the warning.

British authorities arrested Assange after the embassy withdrew its protection in April. Numerous documents were highly classified. The charges stem from Wikileaks' acquisition of more than 725,000 classified documents related to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in 2010. In its prosecution of Manning, U.S. prosecutors argued that the leaks put hundreds of lives at risk, according to news reports.

The Justice Department said that in 2009, before Manning acted, WikiLeaks publicly solicited specific classified materials involving the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq so that it could publish the materials.

Daniel Ellsberg, a former U.S. military analyst who released the Pentagon papers in 1971, said that he doesn't expect Assange to be in the USA very quickly, "unless the United Kingdom, with their special friendship, just ships him off very quickly, instead of to Sweden".

A selection of private medical files published by transparency website WikiLeaks as part of their global crusade to expose government secrets.

WikiLeaks published the documents, which were allegedly stolen by the Russian government, during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The new charges - 17 counts related to endangering USA national security by conspiring to obtain and disclose classified information - will weigh on the UK's decision about which of the two countries' cases to address first, if Sweden also requests his extradition from Britain where he's serving a jail sentence for skipping bail.

As First Amendment scholars have noted, that statute squarely applies to indisputably valuable journalism such as publication of the Pentagon Papers, the secret history of the Vietnam war that gave rise to the landmark 1971 Supreme Court case New York Times v.

News organisations around the world widely used the Manning material, which provided previously unavailable information about the Guantanamo Bay detention center, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and worldwide diplomacy.

LMT Online reports that federal prosecutors believe "Assange worked with a former Army intelligence analyst to obtain and disseminate classified information".

Apart from the US, Sweden also seeks Assange's extradition as he is being investigated for sexual misconduct and rape.

"These charges are an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration's attacks on journalism, establishing a unsafe precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets". "You can't just say, 'This person is a journalist and this person is not a journalist.'" When the Justice Department gets into that kind of line-drawing, that's problematic".

"The Nixon administration had exactly the same theory, and they were going to prosecute" the reporters, said Dershowitz.

Chelsea Manning speaks during the Nantucket Project's annual gathering in Nantucket, Massachusetts, September 17, 2017.

The new charges come as Assange also fights a rape claim in Sweden, which he spent nearly seven years in the Ecuadorean embassy in London avoiding. It also alleges that Assange published on WikiLeaks the unredacted names of sources in Iraq and Afghanistan that provided information to the US.

Manning was convicted in military court for providing classified documents to WikiLeaks.


Popular

CONNECT