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US charges Julian Assange with violating Espionage Act

The Department has rejected Assange’s claim that he is a journalist.

Image: Victoria Jones via PA Images

Updated May 23rd 2019, 9:47 PM

THE US JUSTICE Department have charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with violating the US Espionage Act in the publishing of military and diplomatic files in 2010. 

The Department has rejected Assange’s claim that he is a journalist. 

It unveiled 17 new charges against Assange, accusing him of aiding and abetting Chelsea Manning with stealing secret US files and also recklessly exposing and endangering confidential sources in the Middle East and China who were named in the files.

“Julian Assange is no journalist,” Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official, said.

“No responsible actor, journalist or otherwise, would purposely publish the names of individuals he or she knew to be confidential sources, exposing them to the gravest of dangers.”

A solicitor for Assange did not immediately return an email to Associated Press seeking comment.

The new Espionage Act charges go far beyond an initial indictment against Assange made public last month that accused him of conspiring with Manning to crack a defence computer password. 

The new indictment says Assange conspired with Manning to obtain and disclose classified national defense documents, including State Department cables and reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prosecutors say his actions “risked serious harm” to the US.

The Australian whistleblower, who holed himself up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for seven years to avoid a British extradition order to Sweden, was arrested by British police on 11 April after Ecuador gave him up.

A London court sentenced him on May 1 to 50 weeks in jail for breaching the British order.

Includes reporting by © – AFP 2019 and Associated Press

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