Assange Charged With Violating Espionage Act

DOJ alleges the Wikileaks founder “aided and abetted” Chelsea Manning in obtaining classified documents.

Victoria Jones/Zuma Press

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is facing a new round of charges for his role in publishing tens of thousands of US government documents provided by former Army Private Chelsea Manning. The 18-count indictment, announced by the Department of Justice Thursday afternoon, charges that Assange violated the Espionage Act when he allegedly “aided and abetted [Manning] in obtaining classified information.” The DOJ had previously announced that it was charging Assange with violating computer fraud laws.

Barry Pollack, the lawyer who handles Assange’s US legal affairs, told Mother Jones Thursday that the government charged Assange for “encouraging sources to provide him truthful information and for publishing that information.” He called the initial allegations unsealed last month a “fig leaf,” adding: “These unprecedented charges demonstrate the gravity of the threat the criminal prosecution of Julian Assange poses to all journalists in their endeavor to inform the public about actions that have been taken by the US government.”

Prosecutors told reporters Thursday that they were “not charging Assange for passively obtaining classified information,” according to Politico, and added that Assange is “not a journalist.”

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

We can't afford to let independent reporting depend on the goodwill of the superrich: Please help Mother Jones build an alternative to oligarchy that is funded by and answerable to its readers. Please join us with a tax-deductible, year-end donation so we can keep going after the big stories without fear, favor, or false equivalency.

THE BIG QUESTION...

as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.