Reports: US Preparing
Charges Against WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange
April 21, 2017
U.S. sources have told CNN that they have prepared charges against
Julian Assange, the Australian whistleblower who founded WikiLeaks.
The U.S. Justice Department has been investigating Assange since at
least 2010, when WikiLeaks published thousands of stolen U.S. security
Last week in a speech in Washington, D.C., CIA Director Mike Pompeo said
WikiLeaks directed a U.S. Army intelligence analyst in 2010 to intercept
"specific secret information" that "overwhelmingly focuses on the United
The Washington Post reports that prosecutors in the Justice Department
have been drafting a memo considering charges against people connected
with WikiLeaks. But the Post reports that any charges against those
people would need approval from the highest levels of the Justice
U.S. intelligence agencies say Russia used WikiLeaks to publish emails
by former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton in the run-up to last
year's presidential election.
Hackers working for Russia are believed to have gotten into the accounts
of officials of the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National
Committee and published their emails on WikiLeaks, in order to tamper
with the election's outcome.
"It's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is," Pompeo said. "A
nonstate hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like
'Step up our efforts'
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday at a news conference
that Assange's arrest is a priority for the Trump administration.
"We've already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be
made, we will seek to put some people in jail," he said.
Assange's lawyer, however, told CNN that he has not heard from the
Justice Department about any charges against his client. "They've been
unwilling to have any discussion at all, despite our repeated requests
that they let us know what Mr. Assange's status is in any pending
investigations," Barry Pollack said.
Pollack said WikiLeaks should be treated the same as other news outlets,
such as The Washington Post and New York Times, which routinely publish
stories based on classified information. His position echoes the stance
taken by the Obama administration, which elected not to prosecute
in the Trump administration indicated early on that they might
re-examine the issue, which was never formally closed.
Assange is wanted on rape charges in Sweden, but has been granted asylum
by the South American nation of Ecuador. He has been living since 2012
in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid arrest and extradition.
The Post on April 11 published an opinion piece by Assange that said,
"Quite simply, our motive is identical to that claimed by the New York
Times and the Post — to publish newsworthy content.
"Consistent with the U.S. Constitution, we publish material that we can
confirm to be true, irrespective of whether sources came by that truth
legally or have the right to release it to the media," he added.