Justice Department officials on Thursday announced 17 additional felony charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

A grand jury in Alexandria, Va., returned the superseding indictment charging Assange with conspiring to violate the Espionage Act by working with former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to obtain classified materials.

Assange is also charged with publishing a select range of the classified documents that revealed the names of low-level, local sources utilized by the U.S. government, including Afghan and Iraqi nationals and journalists.

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“Some say Julian Assange is a journalist. The department takes seriously the role of journalists in our democracy,” said John Demers, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s National Security Division. But, Demers said, Assange “is no journalist.”

The charges are unveiled as Assange is fighting extradition to the U.S. after he was arrested earlier this year on a conspiracy charge.

Manning has been summoned before grand juries investigating WikiLeaks twice this year in the Eastern District of Virginia, but has refused to testify both times. She is currently incarcerated after a judge again ordered her to be held in contempt over her refusal to cooperate.

Manning pleaded guilty in 2013 to leaking the classified information and was sentenced to 35 years in prison — a record sentence for a leaking conviction. Former President Obama commuted Manning’s sentence in 2017.

 

By Morgan Chalfant and Jacqueline Thomsen

Source: thehill.com

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