Assange Indicted On 17 Espionage Charges

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Above: Free Assange protest outside of British Embassy in Washington DC from

For the first time in history, a publisher and editor has been charged under the Espionage Act. The prosecution of Julian Assange is an attack on Freedom of the Press that will make it less likely that the media will critically cover actions of the government especially when it comes to military and intelligence activities. This indictment is a blow to our right to know and undermines Constitutional guarantees.

This indictment should raise alarms in newsrooms across the globe. A foreign journalist who publishes truthful information that is critical of the US security state and militarism is being forcibly brought to the United States to be prosecuted. This threatens not only news reporters in the United States but anywhere in the world. War crimes by the United States need to be exposed. This indictment increases the likelihood that they will go unreported. 

When Assange was removed from the Ecuadorian Embassy, he was charged with conspiracy with Chelsea Manning who provided documents to Wikileaks in 2010. The superseding indictment announced today against Assange includes 17 additional charges under the Espionage Act involving the unlawful obtaining and disclosure of national defense information.

Wikileaks tweeted that the new indictment was the end of national security journalism:

Assange’s attorney Barry Pollack said:

“Today the government charged Julian Assange under the Espionage Act for encouraging sources to provide him truthful information and for publishing that information. The fig leaf that this is merely about alleged computer hacking has been removed. 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 taken by the U.S. government.”

The new indictment (read the indictment here) says Assange released a list of his organization’s “Most Wanted Leaks” to encourage people to provide military and intelligence documents. According to the indictment, Manning appeared to have responded to Assange’s public solicitation, searching the classified Pentagon network for some of the same terms highlighted by WikiLeaks, such as “interrogation videos.” The indictment describes a conspiracy where “Assange, WikiLeaks affiliates and Manning shared the common objective to subvert lawful restrictions on classified information and to publicly disseminate it.” 

The New York Times, which has been silent on the Assange investigation and previous indictment, finally raised First Amendment concerns, writing:

The Justice Department’s decision to pursue Espionage Act charges signals a dramatic escalation under President Trump to crack down on leaks of classified information and aims squarely at First Amendment protections for journalists. Most recently, law enforcement officials charged a former intelligence analyst with giving classified documents to The Intercept, a national security news website.

Legal scholars believe that prosecuting reporters over their work would violate the First Amendment, but the prospect has not yet been tested in court because the government had never charged a journalist under the Espionage Act.

Though he is not a conventional journalist, much of what Mr. Assange does at WikiLeaks is difficult to distinguish in a legally meaningful way from what traditional news organizations like The New York Times do: seek and publish information that officials want to be secret, including classified national security matters, and take steps to protect the confidentiality of sources.

The Washington Post which has also not raised alarms around the First Amendment implications of Assange’s prosecution wrote in regard to the new indictments “The new charges dramatically raise the stakes of the case both for Assange and the news media, raising questions about the limits of the First Amendment and protections for publishers of classified information. . . the new charges against Assange carry potential consequences not just for him, but for others who publish classified information, and could change the delicate balance in U.S. law between press freedom and government secrecy.”

President Obama indicted more people under the Espionage Act than all previous presidents combined, but never prosecuted Assange under the Act reportedly out of concerns that such a case could chill traditional journalism as it would be too difficult to distinguish WikiLeaks from other news organizations. The Espionage Act was not written to target journalists but was written during World War I to target spies and traitors. Until Obama, the Act had been used intermittently, including when the government prosecuted Daniel Ellsberg for publication of the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam War.

Assange is currently serving a 50-week sentence after a judge in the UK found him guilty of violating his bail conditions. He lived in the Ecuadorian Embassy for 7 years where he received asylum to avoid extradition to Sweden, where a controversial sexual assault investigation was ongoing until it was dropped last year. Sweden recently re-opened the investigation and is also seeking Assange’s extradition. 

Chelsea Manning remains in custody for refusing to cooperate with a federal grand jury investigation of Julian Assange. This is the second time this year she has been jailed for refusing to testify.  A judge has ordered her jailed until she complies, or until the term of the grand jury expires. It is unclear whether these indictments will end the grand jury and she will be released or whether the grand jury is continuing its investigation. Manning told the judge at the time she would “rather starve to death” than testify.


The Prosecution Of Julian Assange Is A Threat To Journalists Everywhere
Julian Assange Arrested, Take Action Now
Julian Assange: At The Forefront Of 21st Century Journalism
Chelsea Manning Returns To Jail In ‘Unprecedented’ Ruling
Sweden Reopens 9-Year Old Rape Investigation Against Julian Assange; Seeks His Arrest And Extradition

To see all our articles on Julian Assange visit


  • Cliff Sommers

    Next article: examination of potential penalites under revised specifications and analysis of how this is likely to play out under British jurisprudence. Specifically, is the death penalty at issue? Does British law prevent extradiction if it does? What if they punt and let Sweden have first crack at him? Is this the workaround loophole and the reason for reinstating such charges?

  • Snowden revealed that our 5 eyed governments spy on us all the time.

    The material that Wikileaks revealed showed that this isn’t done in order to keep us safe but the ultimate masters behind the 5 eyes.

    The Wikileaks collateral damage video revealed that when innocent civilians – who posed no threat whatsoever – are deliberately being murdered by US soldiers in cold blood that absolutely no one will be held accountable for their warcrimes.

    Absolutely no one.

    When the ICC – at long last 2017 – did finally launch an investigation into US war crimes in Afghanistan – The ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda was denied a visa to visit the UN in the US.

    Clearly that must have served as a wakeup call to the Neocons that this ain’t over yet.

    Neocon John Bolton subsequently threatened a judge at the ICC to the extend that he resigned and the chief prosecutor was ordered to stop her investigation into US war crimes.

    President Trump’s National Security Advisor, John Bolton, has made a withering attack on the International Criminal Court (ICC), threatening prosecutions against personnel and retaliation against any country cooperating with the Court if it ‘goes after’ America.

    [Afghanistan Analisyst]

    The Pentagone has already approved plans to ”forcibly”extract their own from the ICC in case they’ve ended up in there.

    The Swedish prosecutor who issued an arrest warrant for Assange without a judges approval reveals the hypocrisy behind it all.

  • Rick_StaggenborgMD

    For those who don’t realize that a major function of the mainstream media is to propagate lies that serve to justify US military (and other) aggression, just watch and see if any major “news” source comes to Assange’s defense.

  • Nice picture, Lee Camp on the far left 😉

  • The death penalty is definitely an issue since the fabricated and trumped up charges include spying.

    I doubt that the US will try to enforce it, that would be very foolish since it would invoke a global response they have been very careful to avoid…so far.

    The US is the undisputed world leader when it comes to hypocrisy.

    If spying invites invites the death penalty, it’s definitely worth a mention that the war crimes revealed by Wikileaks have not led to war criminals being held accountability for cold bloodied murder, or the ICC being threatened as a result for even daring to consider investigating US war crimes.

  • Alan MacDonald

    I just posted this comment on the NYT:

    Alan MacDonald
    Wells, Maine1h ago

    “In a 21st century variation of Louis Brandeis’ famous quote, “We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both” — I would humbly submit that with regard to freedom of the press and the people’s first amendment right to have even the potential to understand where we are now going — we can have informed awareness of our government, or we may only have this metastasizing first Disguised Global (crony) Capitalist EMPIRE.”

  • mwildfire

    “…absolutely no one will be held accountable for their war crimes.” Not quite true. Those who REVEAL war crimes, or torture, have been punished.

  • mwildfire

    I think you’re missing something, in assuming they wouldn’t use the death penalty for fear of global horror (but where’s the horror at what Saudi Arabia does–whipping and beheading and crucifying people, including dissidents guilty of no actual crimes?) Namely, that they can fall back on a tactic repeatedly used in the Sixties but not since: having a “lone nut” kill the activist while the authorities were supposedly not paying attention (and then often having another one kill the first lone nut so he can’t be questioned). I don’t think they’ll want to risk a trial, certainly not one with a jury or press; if they arrange an extrajudicial killing they can pretend innocence while still “sending a message” since everyone but the determinedly naive will know the government was behind it.
    There is a question here, though–why did they release these indictments now, when Assange is not yet extradited? Supposedly the UK won’t extradite him to a possible death sentence.

  • kevinzeese

    The US needed to put forward the charges in order to proceed on extradition. It is difficult to change charges once the extradition occurs. The extradition is likely to take years so a lot can change, e.g. if Corbyn if prime minister the extradition is likely to be blocked.

  • mwildfire

    But I thought the scheme was to yank him across the ocean on the dubious hacking charge, then add the ones with a potential death penalty after he was here.
    And I don’t think they’ll allow Corbyn to be prime minister–that would be threat to the PTB, and they have their ways of preventing it.

  • I like the way that you decided to post on the establishments mouthpiece

    Was there a response to your post?

  • Exposing the truth isn’t a war crime.

  • First of all Assange should be a free man, it’s the war crimes that were exposed that should be under investigation while the murderous crew of the helicopter gunship should be arrested by military police, they can hold their own accountable.

    The collateral video goes a long way to explaining why the Obama administration favored drones, they even come back to deal with the first responders.

    The death penalty will cause global outrage not seen before, it will also set of the dead man switch releasing more material – something which should have been released already.

    The Saudies have scant regard for human rights, actually doing something about that require the masses to stop using combustion engines and…. shock horror, consider using public transport and or cycling everywhere.

    KZ already answered the question, It appears to be related to procedure the US has until June 11 2019 to deliver the charges for extradition – ”a process that could take months or years and could be complicated by a rape allegation against Assange in Sweden”.[SMH]

    Manning, who served seven years in prison for her disclosures, is now incarcerated in Virginia for refusing to cooperate with the grand jury investigating Assange. A federal judge last week imposed a fine of $US500 ($725) per day if Manning does not testify within 30 days, and raised the fine to $US1000 per day if she does not testify within 60 days.

    She told the judge she “would rather starve to death”.

  • Alan MacDonald

    Yes, on several left sites, and seemingly even a mainstream reporter.

  • From RT

    According to Kiriakou, Assange should not count on the court’s impartiality in his case: “They are going to try to make an example of Julian. He’s been charged in the Eastern District of Virginia. His judge was also my judge and ex-Snowden’s judge and [CIA whistleblower] Jeffry Sterling’s judge who reserves every national security case for herself.”

    She is a hanging judge. She will not give him a fair trial. It’s impossible for Julian to receive a fair trial in the Eastern District of Virginia. RT

  • mwildfire

    On the final bit, not counting about Manning, I wonder about the Sweden action because I don’t believe the Swedish government is a separate actor here, and I don’t think ANYONE is concerned about Assange’s sexual history. It was always a transparent ploy to get Assange into US government hands. So now that the US is directly demanding extradition, why do they need this? I’m sure the last thing they want is to “complicate” extraditing him to the US. Maybe Sommers is right and they’re doing it because Sweden doesn’t have a prohibition about delivering (an Australian citizen) to a country to a possible death sentence. But I still wonder why they just didn’t wait until he was on US soil in response to the dubious hacking charge, and THEN publicly add the other charges.

  • Lobola Equine

    Riding public transportation right now

  • The relationship between the US and Sweden has never been better.

    DOT sott DOT net/article/285719-Sweden-as-a-US-puppet-has-never-been-better Sweden as a puppet has never been better

    Gone are the days when Sweden objected to the militarism of the US. The days when Sweden was a truly neutral country. That had not engaged in warfare of any kind for hundreds of years and was proud of it. Gone are the days when the sexes actually enjoyed each other (and sex itself). Reinfeldt and Bildt changed all that.

    Sweden’s Aliens Act [1989] forbids repatriation to a country where nationals are likely to be tortured – clearly those day’s are long gone – the Swedish government rather cooperated with the human rights denying rendition flights.

    DOT com/2012/12/19/how-sweden-collaborated-with-cia-on-renditions-and-framing-of-assange How Sweden Collaborated With CIA on Renditions and Framing of Julian Assange

    Despite the pressures from the United States and other pro-western governments, the Republic of Ecuador has granted political asylum to Mr. Assange. On the other hand, the United Kingdom has hindered the free movement of Mr. Assange even though the same government blocked the extradition to Spain of the late Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet.

    links trigger moderation considering the amount of time required to approve them I’ll post the active links in my next comment on Geopolitics

  • chetdude

    wildfire’s point is that telling the truth is a crime to the war criminals that run this Empire…

  • Yes I got that – Exposing the truth should never be considered as a crime since the response becomes justified.

    The counter argument of the war criminals is a diversion – that the information was illegally obtained and therefore not admissable.

    However in this case – the war criminals also serve as judge, jury and executioner – Not to mention control over the media.

  • Great, does it allow for carrying bicycles?

  • Jon

    Except for Seth Rich, Michael Hastings, and . . .”a tactic repeatedly used in the Sixties but not since”

  • chetdude

    Sort of tangential, the current meme being pushed by the Trump DOJ in its “indictment” (and alas, by the “democrat leaning” media) is that that they claim that since Assange is not a “journalist” (by their tortured definition) he therefore has no 1st Amendment Rights to publish.

    But as has been pointed out in the Constitution and by the Courts, including SCOTUS, the Right to speak, write and publish is the inalienable Right of ALL people, there’s no special carve-out for “journalists”…it’s a Right for ALL of us.

    Of course, like anything else, it’s a Right only if you can keep it.

  • Assange is one of the best journalist of our times, just because the Neocons don’t like what is being written about them doesn’t form valid logic to claim that he isn’t a journalist.

    Exactly who do they think they are, to assume they can issue orders to someone who isn’t even a US citizen?

    If anything the last 3 administrations have made an absolute mockery of the US constitution.

  • mwildfire

    Michael Hastings was a different tactic, I’d lump that in with Wellstone’s plane crash and the guy opposing Ashcroft, who died in a suspicious plane crash. Come to think of it, it might not be wholesome to be the pilot of the plane extraditing Assange to the States.

  • chetdude

    I’d say the last 6 Admins have made an absolute mockery of the unfulfilled promises implied by the Preamble to the Constitution…

  • That they sworn an oath to protect and to uphold !

    Why hasn’t that been pursued to the extend that the Neocons are willing to go when the occasion requires it, like Assange was in court only three hours after he was yanked out of the Ecuadorian embassy.

    There is no equity on the bench, the working class isn’t represented the legal system functions to protect the aristocracy.

  • Jon

    True. What I said was mere variations on the theme, but yeah, different tactic–same strategy.