WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Thursday was slapped with new criminal charges of allegedly violating the Espionage Act by conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to illegally obtain and disclose classified information, the US Department of Justice announced.
The feds allege in the 18-count superseding indictment that Assange had worked with Manning since 2009 to publish the classified information on WikiLeaks with the intent to harm the United States or aid foreign countries in what they called “one of the largest compromises of classified information” in US history.
It’s the second set of charges brought against Assange by the feds since he was hauled out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after his political asylum was revoked.
The latest indictment alleges Assange published the names of confidential sources who provided sensitive information to US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and to State Department diplomats across the globe.
Justice Department officials stressed that they don’t view Assange’s actions as protected by the First Amendment.
He’s “no journalist,” said Assistant Attorney General John Demers, the Justice Department’s top national security official. “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.”
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