The Department of Justice has filed 17 new criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. The charges follow a much more limited accusation that was unveiled in April, when Assange was charged with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. According to the indictment, he now faces several charges of obtaining and disclosing national defense information without authorization, in connection with what the Department of Justice calls "one of the largest commitments of classified information in the history of the United States."
arrested last month after being expelled from the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where he sought asylum in 2012. UK courts sentenced him to almost a year in prison for violating bail conditions, and began to fight against the attempts of extradition of the United States by its initial position of CFAA, that presumably conspired to decipher a password with the informant Chelsea Manning. The new charges are much more serious, since each charge carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison. Assange also faces a rape accusation recently reopened in Sweden.
The Department of Justice states that "Assange conspired with Manning; Obtained from Manning and assisted and instigated to obtain classified information … tried to receive classified information for reasons to believe that such materials would be obtained, taken, manufactured and disposed of by a person contrary to the law; and helped and instigated Manning to communicate classified documents to Assange. "
WikiLeaks posted on Twitter once the news of Assange's accusation was made public" This is crazy ", says the tweet ] "It's the end of national security journalism and the First Amendment."
It's not clear how the new allegation affects Manning, who provided Assange with much of WikiLeaks' most explosive material, and was jailed for the week passed after refusing to testify in a Grand Jury Hearing on WikiLeaks and Assange.
This indictment will raise serious questions about the First Amendment and the role of WikiLeaks in the journalistic ecosystem.Critics argue that Assange should not be granted the protection of a traditional journalist, but groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union warned that the charges against Assange could open the door to prosecute other media that publish filtered contents.
"For the first time In the history of our country, the government has brought criminal charges against an editor for the publication of truthful information, this is an extraordinary escalation of the Trump administration's attacks on journalism, and a direct attack to the First Amendment, "the ACLU wrote in a statement today." It sets a dangerous precedent that can be used to target all news organizations that hold the government responsible by publishing their secrets. US journalists who discover the secrets of other nations If the United States can prosecute a foreign publisher for violating our secrecy laws, there is nothing to prevent China or Russia from doing the same. "
A representative of Assange did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update 5:15 PM ET: Added a WikiLeaks tweet and an ACLU statement.