United States charges Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with publishing classified information

The US Justice Department unveiled 17 new counts under the Espionage Act against WikiLeaks founder Assange.

The indictment specifically addresses Assange's exchanges with Manning, alleging that "after agreeing to receiving classified documents from Manning and aiding, abetting, and causing Manning to provide classified documents", Assange then published those documents on WikiLeaks - an act they say put confidential sources used by the USA government overseas in potential danger.

The Trump Administration's decision to charge Assange for attracting - and then publishing - classified material is expected to provoke blowback on First Amendment grounds.

The new indictment alleges that Assange conspired with Manning to steal classified government documents, including State Department cables and classified reports about the Iraq and Afghanistan war efforts. His actions allegedly "risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries and put the unredacted named human sources at a grave and imminent risk of serious physical harm and/or arbitrary detention".

"The superseding indictment alleges that Assange was complicit with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defense", DOJ released in a statement.

She was jailed once again in March 2019 for refusing to appear before the jury investigating WikiLeaks and testify against Assange.

In April, Assange was kicked out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London after living there for years to avoid arrest.

WikiLeaks has tweeted in response to the charges, saying: "This is madness".

Zach Terwilliger, the US attorney in the eastern district of Virginia, said that Assange is "not charged simply because he's a publisher". "It has not and never been the Department's policy to target them for reporting". She could remain in jail for up to 18 months, the length of the current grand jury's term.

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