US widens case against Assange

A federal grand jury in the US has returned a second, superseding indictment against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange for his alleged role in exposing classified information.

“The new indictment does not add additional counts to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019. It does, however, broaden the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged,” the department of justice (DoJ) said.

The department alleges he communicated with a leader of hacking group LulzSec, who by then was cooperating with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and provided a list of targets for LulzSec to hack.

WikiLeaks published emails from a data breach committed against an American intelligence consulting company by an “Anonymous” and LulzSec-affiliated hacker, according to the DoJ’s statement.

Assange’s lawyer Barry Pollack was reported by the PressGazette in the UK as saying the United States’ “relentless pursuit of Julian Assange poses a grave threat to journalists everywhere and to the public’s right to know”.

Assange was arrested in the UK last year after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. He is currently detained in the UK, fighting an extradition request by the US. The charges against him carry a maximum combined jail term of 175 years.

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