U.S. prosecutors Thursday announced new criminal charges under the Espionage Act against jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over his alleged role in what they termed “one of the largest compromises of classified information” in U.S. history.
The charges are not related to WikiLeaks’ alleged role in disseminating stolen Democratic emails during the 2016 U.S. presidential elections.
An 18-count superseding indictment returned by a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia accuses Assange of working with former Army specialist Chelsea Manning to obtain and publish on WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of highly sensitive U.S. government reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as the Guantanamo Bay prison.
FILE - Chelsea Manning addresses the media outside federal court in Alexandria, Va., March 5, 2019. The former Army intelligence analyst was ordered to jail on March 8, 2019 for refusing to testify to a Virginia grand jury investigating WikiLeaks.
The documents, many of them classified as secret, contained the names of journalists, dissidents and other human sources that provided information to U.S. forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as to U.S. diplomats around the world.
Warned in 2010
Assange, prosecutors allege, knew that disseminating the names endangered the human sources and that he continued to do so even after a warning by the State Department in late 2010.
Assange was charged last year with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in connection with working with Manning. The indictment was unsealed in April after Assange was expelled from Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he’d taken refuge in 2012, and arrested by British police.
He remains in jail on charges of violating his bail conditions and faces possible extradition to the U.S. and Swed ..