The US Justice Department on May 23, 2019, charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with violating the US Espionage Act in the publishing of military and diplomatic files in 2010.
The Justice Department unveiled 17 new criminal 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.
Initially charged with conspiring with Manning, Assange now faces a total of 18 criminal counts. If convicted, the punishment could run to a long term of imprisonment.
“These unprecedented charges demonstrate the gravity of the threat the criminal prosecution of Julian Assange poses to all journalists in their endeavour to inform the public about actions that have been taken by the US government,” said Barry Pollack, an American attorney for Assange.
Manning was arrested in May 2010 and convicted by court-martial in 2013 of espionage in connection with the case. Subsequently, her sentence was reduced to 7 years from 35 years, however, she is now in jail after repeatedly refusing to testify before a grand jury investigating Assange.
Assange is currently fighting extradition to the United States, after Ecuador on April 11, 2019, revoked his seven-year asylum in the country’s London embassy. Soon after he left the embassy, the British police arrested him.
He is now serving a 50-week sentence in a London jail after a British Judge on May 1, 2019, pronounced the sentence against him for skipping bail when he fled to the Ecuadorean embassy in 2012.
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