Julian Assange was charged Thursday in an 18-count superseding indictment for his role in orchestrating the 2010 WikiLeaks disclosures, including charges that accuse him of violating the Espionage Act.
According to the Justice Department, the new charges from a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of Virginia allege that “Assange’s actions risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries.”
The charges include an allegation of conspiracy between Manning and Assange to obtain, receive and disclose national defense information in violation of the Espionage Act, a rare act by prosecutors against an individual who never served inside government.
Reacting to the indictment Thursday, Assange’s attorney in Washington Barry Pollack said Assange was being charged “for encouraging sources to provide him truthful information and for publishing that information.”
“The fig leaf that this is merely about alleged computer hacking has been removed,” Pollack said. “These unprecedented charges demonstrate the gravity of the threat the criminal prosecution of Julian Assange poses to all journalists in their endeavor to inform the public about actions that have taken by the U.S. government.”
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