WikiLeaks Founder Charged With Conspiring With LulzSec & Anonymous Hackers

Clay Curtis
June 29, 2020

While WikiLeaks and Assange himself have been demonized by the United States establishment since the 2016 presidential campaign - when they published internal documents of the Democratic National Committee, as well as private emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta - the charges are entirely unrelated to that episode, at least for now.

Wikileaks and Assange are alleged by the USA to have played roles in one of the largest compromises of classified documents in American history.

If found guilty of the charges under the Espionage Act, he could face a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison on each count and another five years for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, according to federal prosecutors.

The prosecutors said that WikiLeaks allegedly obtained and published the information it had from a hack into an "American intelligence consulting company by an "Anonymous" and LulzSec-affiliated hacker". These new claims won't necessarily lead to more prison time for Assange if he's convicted, but the government is clearly hoping they'll bolster the case against the WikiLeaks creator.

The Justice Department has already charged him with conspiring with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history by working together to crack a password to a government computer.

The new allegations against Assange were outlined in an updated indictment on Wednesday. Assange indirectly asked that hacker to spam that company again, the US said. In 2009, for instance, Assange told the Hacking At Random conference that WikiLeaks had obtained nonpublic documents from the Congressional Research Service by exploiting "a small vulnerability" inside the document distribution system of the United States Congress, and then asserted that "t$3 his is what any one of you would find if you were actually looking".

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Barry Pollack, Assange's lawyer said in a statement that "the government's relentless pursuit of Julian Assange poses a grave threat to journalists everywhere and to the public's right to know".

"Since the early days of WikiLeaks, Assange has spoken at hacking conferences to tout his own history as a "famous teenage hacker in Australia" and to encourage others to hack to obtain information for WikiLeaks", the DOJ said.

Mr Assange's legal representatives have not yet commented on the new indictment.

After falling out with the Ecuadorian government, British police were invited to the embassy and arrested Assange on May 19 a year ago. The U.K. firm representing Assange in the extradition proceeding didn't immediately respond to an email seeking comment on the new indictment sent outside regular business hours.

United States prosecutors are seeking his extradition on the grounds that he damaged national security by publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, but Assange maintains he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection. But prosecutors say it underscores Assange's efforts to procure and release classified information, allegations that form the basis of criminal charges he already faces.

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