DOJ Charges Julian Assange with Publishing Classified Information

Julian Assange

Julian Assange

The new indictment - which charges him for his publishing activity - raises fundamental First Amendment questions.

The Justice Department said: "Assange actively encouraged Manning to provide more information and agreed to crack a password hash stored on US Department of Defence computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a United States government network used for classified documents and communications".

But Justice Department officials sought to make clear that they believed Assange's actions weren't those of a journalist, though they declined to discuss the policy discussions that led to the indictment.

He is also accused of endangering the lives of U.S. sources in Iran, China, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan by not redacting names or other identifying information despite warnings from the State Department.

In this May 1, 2019, file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange puts his fist up as he is taken from court in London.

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who was arrested in London last month after seven years in an Ecuadorian embassy, is now reportedly facing new charges of espionage in the United States.

Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange was hit Thursday with new federal criminal charges alleging he conspired with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to obtain and publish secret documents, some of which included the disclosure of identities of foreigners who were aiding the USA military overseas.

A US Department of Justice indictment accuses Assange of obtaining and disclosing national defense information about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Terwilliger said the sources were in China, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

John Lindh, U.S. volunteer for the Taliban, released from prison
He noted that numerous other Taliban fighters who were sent to Guantanamo as enemy combatants were released much earlier. Lindh's letters were written by hand and had all been subject to inspection before being sent from prison.

Department officials said they don't view Assange, who founded WikiLeaks in 2006, as a journalist.

The US has announced 17 fresh charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, as a Swedish court announces it will hold a hearing on 3 June to decide whether to issue a detention order - the first step towards seeking his extradition from Britain to Sweden.

Assange is already the subject of an extradition request from the United States, where he is accused of hacking.

"These charges are an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration's attacks on journalism, establishing a risky precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government accountable by publishing its secrets", it said. After that, foreign governments do not generally accept superseding charges.

But the additional charges have been slammed by press freedom groups who warn of the potential impacts of the first amendment in the USA and on national security reporting worldwide.

"The department takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy", John Demers, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, told reporters today.

"Assange, WikiLeaks affiliates and Manning shared the common objective to subvert lawful restrictions on classified information and to publicly disseminate it", the indictment said.

"It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment", it said.

The Espionage Act of 1917 was born with the intent of prohibiting any interference with military operations or recruitment, to prevent insubordination in the military, and to prevent the support of United States enemies during wartime.

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