Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 June 2019

US files 17 new charges against Julian Assange

WikiLeaks co-founder is facing extradition from Britain to US or Sweden

The Justice Department has charged Assange with receiving and publishing classified information. The charges are contained in a new, 18-count indictment. AP
The Justice Department has charged Assange with receiving and publishing classified information. The charges are contained in a new, 18-count indictment. AP

The US Justice Department has filed 17 new charges against WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange.

The US claims Assange unlawfully published the names of classified sources, and conspired and assisted former army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to classified information.

He was extracted from the Ecuadorian embassy in London by British police in April after seeking refuge there for seven years.

He is serving a 50-week jail sentence in the UK for breaching his bail conditions after the embassy lost patience and invited the Metropolitan Police in to arrest him last month.

Sweden and the US are seeking Assange’s extradition so the UK has to decide which country takes precedence.

On May 13, Sweden's deputy director of public prosecutions, Eva-Marie Persson, said the country would reopen the case into a report of alleged rape made on August 17, 2010.

In making the decision, British Home Secretary Sajid Javid will have to consider the seriousness of the offences and the date each warrant was issued, under UK extradition law.

Last month more than 70 MPs and peers signed a letter urging the home secretary to ensure Assange faced the authorities in Sweden before the US.

Earlier the US Justice Department unsealed a narrower criminal case against him.

Mr Assange was charged with conspiring with Ms Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of a 2010 release by WikiLeaks of hundreds of thousands of US military reports about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Justice Department said that Mr Assange rejected the US State Department's warning in 2010 to redact the names of its and the US military's confidential sources in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Iran and China, sources it said included journalists, religious leaders, human rights advocates, and political dissidents.

"Assange's actions risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries and put the unredacted named human sources at a grave and imminent risk of serious physical harm and/or arbitrary detention," the department said.

Updated: May 24, 2019 02:59 AM

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