Julian Assange charged with 17 new criminal counts under Espionage Act

The U.S. is still waiting on the UK to extradite Julian Assange. (Wikicommons)

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WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange has been charged with 17 new criminal counts under the Espionage Act for “unlawfully obtaining” and disclosing national defense information.

The indictment, which was issued in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, concerns Department of Defense documents that WikiLeaks disclosed after former Army Intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning turned them over to Assange.

“Assange personally and publicly promoted WikiLeaks to encourage those with access to protected information, including classified information, to provide it to WikiLeaks for public disclosure,” the indictment reads.

Some of what WikiLeaks published included names of foreigners, including sources in the Middle East, who were helping U.S. military overseas, which “is alleged to have created imminent risks to the life and liberty,” per the DOJ.

The U.S. government unsealed an indictment in April revealing that Assange had been charged for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for his alleged efforts to help Manning crack a password on a U.S. government computer.

Assange, who still faces that charge, is currently being held in the UK, having been sentenced to 50 weeks in prison for jumping bail seven years ago.

One official noted that the DOJ does not consider Assange to be a journalist, meaning the U.S. government believes he is not immune to being prosecuted for the publication of secret information.

It will be up to a U.K. court to determine if Assange should be extradited to the U.S., as the Department of Justice has requested. The extradition treaty between the U.S. and U.K. stipulates that extradition may not be granted if the offense in question is political in nature, something Assange may argue because of the material WikiLeaks published.

Additionally, Swedish authorities have reopened the rape case against Assange, which could delay any efforts to extradite him to the U.S.

You can read the full superseding indictment below.

Greg Otto and Jeff Stone contributed to this article.

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Chelsea Manning, doj, hacking, Julian Assange, Pentagon, WikiLeaks
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