The United States Justice Department has unveiled charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with 17 new counts on the alleged violation of the Espionage Act by publishing classified information through WikiLeaks website.
If convicted for all counts, Assange could face a maximum sentence of 175 years in U.S. prison for his "alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States."
The 47-year-old is currently facing extradition to the United States for his role in publishing thousands of classified diplomatic and military documents on WikiLeaks in 2010 that embarrassed the U.S. governments across the world.
Though the previous indictment charged Assange with just one count of helping former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning crack the password, the latest 18-count indictment accuses him of receiving and unlawfully publishing U.S. military and diplomatic documents over a dozen times, which is a violation of the old 1917 the Espionage Act.
Until now, the DoJ has only prosecuted and charged government officials who leak classified information to the media or public, but this is the first time when the 102-year-old, First World War-era Espionage Act has been used against a journalist.
The Espionage Act forbids the disclosure of national defense information that could be used ..