Hours after being removed from the Ecuadorean embassy in London where he had been holed up for seven years, U.S. prosecutors unveiled charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, alleging that he helped former U.S. Army soldier Chelsea Manning try to access a trove of classified computer documents which were then transferred to Wikileaks and released to the public.
“The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers,” prosecutors announced in the Eastern District of Virginia.
In the indictment unsealed on Thursday morning, federal prosecutors charged that Assange 'was not authorized to receive classified information of the United States.'
The indictment says Assange 'agreed to assist Manning' around March 8, 2010 in cracking the password, as Manning was downloading materials to send to Wikileaks.
The indictment of Assange includes quotes from exchanges between Manning and the Wikileaks founder, using the “Jabber” online chat service.
The indictment was dated March 6, 2018.
The indictment does not charge Assange with any crimes for releasing the documents provided by Manning - only in the effort to hack into U.S. military computers to access more information.
In Congress, lawmakers in both parties called for a quick extradition of Assange to the United States.
“While President Trump may ‘love Wikileaks’ for flooding the airwaves with information stolen by the Russian government, Mr. Assange is in fact a tool of Vladimir Putin and the Russian intelligence service,” said Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY).
“Under the guise of transparency, Julian Assange and Wikileaks have effectively acted as an arm of the Russian intelligence services for years,” said Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), the Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.
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