US indicts Julian Assange on 18 federal charges

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US indicts Julian Assange on 18 federal charges
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US indicts Julian Assange on 18 federal charges
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Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted on 18 criminal charges following a federal grand jury’s decision. The charges stem from the leak of classified information by Chelsea Manning, former member of the US Army. Manning was originally sentenced to 35 years in prison, but former President Obama commuted the sentence to 7 years.

US officials claim Assange attempted to help Manning break into a classified government computer. The indictment also claims Assange had “reason to believe that the information was to be used to the injury of the United States or the advantage of a foreign nation.”

Federal authorities allege the Wikileaks founder carelessly published the unredacted names of multiple valuable sources, potentially endangering their lives. “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 indictment alleges.

The indictment goes on to claim that Assange and Wikileaks “actively solicited United States classified information” about the United States government. In all, authorities allege Manning leaked approximately 90,000 Afghanistan war-related significant activity reports, 400,000 Iraq war-related significant activities reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, and 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables to Wikileaks.

Assange is already serving 50 weeks in prison in the UK. He was sentenced earlier this month on charges of failing to appear in court as scheduled and attempting to avoid extradition to Sweden by claiming asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Assange has vowed to fight extradition to the United States.

Manning is currently back in jail due to her refusal to testify against Assange and Wikileaks. Manning was subpoenaed in February of this year, but declared her unwillingness to testify in the case.

Manning was jailed for contempt of court in March at a federal detention center. She was released two months later after the grand jury’s term expired. However, she was quickly subpoenaed again to appear before a new grand jury just one week after her release.

Manning again refused to testify, choosing to return to jail instead. Manning will likely remain in jail for the entire 18 month term of the new grand jury.  A fine of $500 a day has been imposed on her for every day she spends in jail over 30 days. She is to be fined $1000 for each day over 60 days she spends in jail.

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