A Virginia federal grand jury has indicted Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder who has published state and corporate secrets for over a decade.
He received 17 felony charges from the grand jury under the Espionage Act and an additional felony charge that had been unsealed following his April arrest in London. The feds reject that his claim that he is a journalist.
“The superseding indictment alleges that Assange was complicit with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defense,” the department said in a press release.
The department claims that Assange “engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange” and “actively encouraged” Chelsea Manning to hack into the military’s computer network. The resulting leaks helped WikiLeaks expose war crimes being hidden from the public by the deep state in 2010.
The feds are likely trying to make an example of the WikiLeaks founder because his revelations regarding Democratic Party corruption were influential in putting Donald Trump into the White House.
WikiLeaks and other 1st Amendment advocates are crying foul at a move they believe strikes at the heart of press freedom in the digital age.
BREAKING: Trump’s Justice Dept has charged WikiLeaks publisher with violating the Espionage Act for publishing secret US documents from ten years ago.
This strikes at the heart of the First Amendment and puts all journalists in extreme danger. https://t.co/Wtnb0c9rhT
— Freedom of the Press (@FreedomofPress) May 23, 2019
All those who spent the last 2+ years proclaiming to be so very concerned about attacks on a free press will now have to decide whether they really meant it, or whether – due to feelings about Assange – they will cheer the Trump Administration's frontal assault on press freedom: https://t.co/4yW1DB58wP
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) May 23, 2019
This is the first time in history that anyone operating in a journalistic capacity has been charged under the Espionage Act. If you claim to be an advocate for "press freedom" yet cheer this outrageous, unprecedented assault on the First Amendment, you're just a complete idiot
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) May 23, 2019
Chelsea Manning, the individual who hacked the military systems and sent the intel to Assange, had her sentence commuted by former President Obama but was ultimately sent back to jail earlier in the month indefinitely for refusing to testify.
Before Trump was elected, Obama had revived the espionage act as the means of cracking down against dissent and silencing his opposition. He used the Espionage Act more than all his predecessors combined, and his successor is continuing that legacy.
Trump once claimed to be a fan of WikiLeaks when their disclosures assisted him on the campaign trail leading up to the 2016 presidential election:
Now that his administration is cracking down on Assange, Trump claims he knows nothing about WikiLeaks:
Assange faces up to 180 years in prison if he is convicted on all counts.
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