Julian Assange Charged in Superseding Indictment

Cheryl Sanders
June 29, 2020

According to a court filing [pdf] in a United States district court, Assange spoke directly to the leader of the LulzSec hackers, and allegedly provided that person with a list of targets.

The updated charges also cite an Anonymous- and LulzSec-linked hacker who said that Assange asked him to spam a U.S. intelligence consulting company after he had already taken emails from the firm.

Assange was originally charged for conspiring with US Army analyst Chelsea Manning to hack a US Department of Defense computer to obtain classified information in 2010.

Assange is now facing up to 175 years in prison for the alleged publication of 100s of thousands of classified documents, while his lawyers say he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protections and that the USA charges against the WikiLeaks founder are politically motivated.

A recent release from the Department of Justice states that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted by a federal grand jury charging Assange with offenses related to his role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.

The 48-year-old Assange was arrested last year after being evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London and is at the centre of a continuing extradition tussle over whether he should be sent to the US.

The superseding indictment does not contain additional charges beyond the 18 counts the Justice Department unsealed past year.

He faces charges under the US Espionage Act for the 2010 release by WikiLeaks of a trove of secret files detailing aspects of US military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was allegedly told by Assange that the most significant release of hacked data would be from the National Security Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, or the New York Times.

Though the prosecutors have other claims against Assange and the groups of hackers, Engadget reported that it will not assure a longer sentence for the suspect. Two years later, he conspired with the leader of LulzSec and asked to be provided with documents and databases, the Justice Department said.

Assange and Wikileaks are also alleged to have received the emails from Russia's GRU military intelligence service, something the Australian has continued to deny.

The US Department of Justice revealed the new indictment on Wednesday, meant to "broaden the scope of the conspiracy" Assange was accused of in May 2019, shortly after he was hauled out of the Ecuadorian embassy in London and imprisoned by United Kingdom authorities.

Prosecutors argue that Assange harmed national security by publishing thousands of classified documents.

Washington has been after Assange for nearly a decade, since he published the Iraq and Afghanistan war diaries, as well as State Department cables, from the cache obtained by Manning.

Manning was sentenced to 35 years in federal prison in 2013 for leaking the classified documents, but her sentence was commuted by former President Barack Obama in early 2017 (see: Obama Commutes Sentence of WikiLeaks Leaker Manning).

According to prosecutors, Assange and a WikiLeaks associate recruited hackers during conferences in the Netherlands and Malaysia in 2009.

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