WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sought to recruit hackers at conferences in Europe and Asia who could provide his anti-secrecy website with classified information, and conspired with members of hacking organizations, according to a new Justice Department indictment announced Wednesday.
Julian Assange faces new indictment in US
STEPANAKERT, JUNE 25, ARTSAKHPRESS: The superseding indictment does not contain additional charges beyond the 18 counts the Justice Department unsealed last year. But prosecutors say it underscores Assange’s efforts to procure and release classified information, allegations that form the basis of criminal charges he already faces, AP reports.
Beyond recruiting hackers at conferences, the indictment accuses Assange of conspiring with members of hacking groups known as LulzSec and Anonymous. He also worked with a 17-year-old hacker who gave him information stolen from a bank and directed the teenager to steal additional material, including audio recordings of high-ranking government officials, prosecutors say.
Assange was arrested last year after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had sought refuge to avoid being sent to Sweden over allegations of rape and sexual assault, and is at the center of an extradition tussle over whether he should be sent to the United States.
The Justice Department has already charged him with conspiring with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history by working together to crack a password to a government computer.
Prosecutors say the WikiLeaks founder damaged national security by publishing hundreds of thousands of classified documents, including diplomatic cables and military files on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, that harmed the U.S. and its allies and aided its adversaries.
Assange maintains he was acting as a journalist entitled to First Amendment protection. His lawyers have argued the U.S. charges of espionage and computer misuse were politically motivated and an abuse of power.