Julian Assange was charged today under the U.S. Espionage Act.
The charges are conspiracy to receive national defense information, obtaining national information, disclosure of national defense information and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. According to NPR, the national defense information relates to “the unredacted names of human sources in places such as China, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.”
Last month, Assange was charged by the U.S. Department of Justice with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. He was arrested April 11 in London and removed from the Ecuadorean embassy. Earlier this month, Assange was sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for breaking the Bail Act in 2012 when he entered the embassy seeking asylum.
The indictment was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. It alleges Assange “encouraged sources to (i) circumvent legal safeguards on information; (ii) provide that protected information to WikiLeaks for public dissemination; and (iii) continue the pattern of illegally procuring and providing protected information to WikiLeaks for distribution to the public.”
Concerning Chelsea Manning, formerly known as Bradley Manning, the indictment alleges Assange “encouraged Manning to continue her theft of classified documents and agreed to help her crack a password hash to a military computer.”
Barry J. Pollack, Assange’s attorney, told iMediaEthics by e-mail:
“Today the government charged Julian Assange under the Espionage Act 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. 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 been taken by the U.S. government.”
On Twitter, WikiLeaks linked to the New York Times‘ article on Assange’s indictment and added, “This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment.”