Julian Assange: US files 17 new charges against Wikileaks co-founder

Clay Curtis
May 24, 2019

Assange was indicted, according to reports, on 17 counts of receiving or publishing military and diplomatic documents he received in 2010 from former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Assange is now in custody in the United Kingdom, and is awaiting extradition to the US.

The superseding indictment comes a little more than a month after the Justice Department unsealed a narrower criminal case against Assange.

They alleged that Manning responded to that clarion call, downloading almost four completely government databases of war reports, Guantanamo Bay detainee assessments and State Department cables and turned them over to WikiLeaks.

Multiple news outlets cited Assistant Attorney General for National Security John Demers as saying in an interview accompanying the indictment's release that, "the department takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy and we thank you for it".

Department officials believe Assange strayed far outside First Amendment protections. Assange faces a total of 18 charges under the Espionage Act.

Swedish deputy director of public prosecutions Eva-Marie Persson on Monday filed a request with the court to have Assange, now imprisoned in Britain, detained in his absence over a 2010 rape allegation.

Assange is already the subject of an extradition request from the United States, where he is accused of hacking.

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The case presents immediate questions about media freedom, including whether the Justice Department is charging Assange for actions - such as soliciting and publishing classified information - that ordinarily journalists do as a matter of course.

Zach Terwilliger, the USA attorney in the eastern district of Virginia, said that Assange is "not charged simply because he's a publisher".

Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III investigated WikiLeaks and its publication of Democratic National Committee emails stolen by the Russian government in 2016.

"I hope he gets out of there, but I don't think he'll survive extradition".

The 47-year-old is in prison in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. The Ecuadorian embassy expelled him in April, leading to his arrest and the unsealing of the initial US indictment.

Assange is now serving a 50-week jail sentence in Great Britain for skipping bail and is fighting extradition to the United States, his lawyer did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment. Assange denies the allegations. She told the judge she "would rather starve to death" than testify.

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