Time’s up for Julian Assange!
According to reports, federal prosecutors unsealed a computer hacking indictment against the WikiLeaks founder on Thursday just hours after arresting him at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he’s been in hiding for the past seven years.
The freshly unsealed indictment, which was filed in March 2018 in Virginia, charges Assange with conspiring to help Chelsea Manning, U.S. Army intelligence analyst turned whistleblower, to hack into the U.S. Department of Defense computers in 2010 and release large quantities of secret documents — an alleged effort the indictment describes as “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.”
The conspiracy to commit computer intrusion charge Assange has been slapped with carries a penalty of up to five years in prison.
Prosecutors said in a press release that Manning and Assange are being accused of engaging in “real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange,” adding:
“The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that ‘after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.’ To which Assange replied, ‘curious eyes never run dry in my experience.’”
Assange has been targeted by the U.S. government since 2010, but has avoided being arrested since he held the status of asylum seeker in the Ecuadorian Embassy, where he’s been living since 2012. But apparently, he overstayed his welcome.
Prosecutors added that the 47-year-old tech wizard was detained in accordance to a U.S.-U.K. extradition treaty after the Ecuadorian government withdrew his asylum status. Metropolitan Police later confirmed they were personally invited into the Ecuadorian Embassy by Ambassador Carlos Abad Ortiz to remove Assange from the property.
A dramatic video showed British authorities carrying a bearded Assange out of the embassy on Thursday and forcing him into a police van. During the struggle, the Wikileaks founder cried:
“The UK must resist this attempt by the Trump administration.”
See for yourself (below):
Interestingly enough, Assange’s initial arrest on Thursday stemmed from something leagues below his computer intrusion conspiracy charge: he was arrested on a warrant for failing to surrender to the Westminster Magistrates’ Court in 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden over sexual assault allegations.
During his court appearance on Thursday, Assange offered no evidence and was found guilty of breaching his bail. The judge described him as “a narcissist who cannot get beyond his own selfish interests.” He will remain in custody until he is sentenced at a later date.
The conspiracy charge against Assange is not related to WikiLeaks’ release during the 2016 presidential campaign of thousands of emails stolen from the computer systems of the Democratic National Committee — a scandal that is also being investigated by the U.S. Office of Special Counsel.
[Image via WENN]
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