Julian Assange Accused Anew Of Urging Manning To Steal Government Files

Julian Assange in 2017
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, Britain May 19, 2017. (Photo: REUTERS/Peter Nicholls/File Photo)

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now faced with 17 new criminal charges related to his alleged conspiracy with Chelsea Manning. Assange's legal team said the additional charges poses a threat to the freedom that all journalists should be practicing.

In an emailed statement to BuzzFeed News, one of Assange's lawyers, Barry Pollack, said the additional charges against his client was a threat to the goals of all journalists "to inform the public about actions that have [been] taken by the U.S. government."

Pollack also noted, the "fig leaf that this is merely about alleged computer hacking has been removed," referring to the original indictment stating that Assange assisted former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Manning in hacking into the Department of Defense's computers.

In the new charges, prosecutors alleged that Assange played a key role in encouraging Manning to access classified information that should not be leaked to the public. The WikiLeaks founder was accused of urging Manning to explore other classified documents when the latter said there were no more files left to publicize.

Prosecutors argued in the new indictment that Assange's move of dropping names of people who provided intel to the U.S. government posed a threat to "innocent people" whom he named through WikiLeaks.

Analysts pointed out that the latest developments in Assange's case could be U.S. President Donald Trump's most straightforward move yet in cracking down on freedom of the press.

CNN reported that prosecutors alleged in April that Assange was only charged with one count of computer intrusion conspiracy. The single count was related to Assange's revelation of classified information revolving around the Guantanamo Bay issue.

WikiLeaks has stood behind its founder and rolled out a tweet that has been liked over 4,000 times since it was posted on Thursday. The outlet called the Trump administration's move as "madness."

The Justice Department has been questioned if any one person has been killed following Assange's information leak. A senior official who spoke on anonymous terms said the government only wanted to establish the "potential" harm that WikiLeaks' published information could bring to those involved.

New charges filed against Assange involve the alleged exchange of government databases with 400,000 Iraq War reports and 90,000 Afghanistan War documents, as well as 250,000 Department of State files, NBC News reported.

Assange was arrested in London earlier last month and he is serving a 50-week sentence. Manning, on the other hand, is in jail as she continues to refuse a subpoena call. She said after being re-jailed this month that she would "rather starve to death" than testify about the leaks.

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