The Justice Department just unveiled an 18 count indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for his role in eliciting classified documents that exposed U.S. government sources in the Middle East. You can read the full indictment below.
John Demers, the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, said that Assange published a “narrow subset” of documents that revealed the identity of sources in Afghanistan and Iraq. Demers said that no “responsible” journalist would have published these documents.
“The department takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy and we thank you for it,” Demers said. “It has not and never has been the department’s policy to target them for reporting. But Julian Assange is no journalist.”
Wikileaks responded on Twitter: “This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment.”
This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment. https://t.co/wlhsmsenFw
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) May 23, 2019
The superseding indictment just unsealed against Julian Assange is exactly what the first indictment wasn't:
17 of the 18 charges are for violating the Espionage Act, under which there's never previously been a successful prosecution of a third party (as opposed to the leaker). pic.twitter.com/xobXJpavXU
— Steve Vladeck (@steve_vladeck) May 23, 2019
As I predicted, DOJ added many additional charges against Julian Assange. Their initial charge was risky and had evidentiary issues, given that Assange's alleged co-conspirator is unwilling to cooperate with DOJ.
I expect DOJ to use this new leverage to push him to plead guilty. https://t.co/QZZAlRKmgI
— Renato Mariotti (@renato_mariotti) May 23, 2019
This indictment comes after Assange was indicted in April on one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for his role in Chelsea Manning‘s leaking of thousands of highly sensitive government documents in 2010. The main allegation in that indictment is that in March 2010, “Assange agreed to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on United States Department of Defense Computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network,” which is used to handle classified documents. This agreement happened after Manning had already given WikiLeaks hundreds of thousands of documents.
There were hints that the government was seeking new charges against Assange when Manning was served with a subpoena for her testimony against Assange. Assange allegedly helped Manning hack government computers, tried to hide Manning’s role in leaks, and encouraged her continue leaking. Last week, Chelsea Manning was jailed for refusing to comply with the subpoena.
[Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images]