Julian Assange Is Now Linked With Hackers and the Indictment Gets Enriched

By Bill Toulas / June 25, 2020

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) is now linking the founder of WikiLeaks, Julian Assange, with the “LulzSec” and the “Anonymous” hackers. This addition comes on top of an already pretty rich indictment against the Australian editor and publisher, which includes a total of 18 counts. Assange faces charges of espionage acts and conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, and it is the latter that the DoJ is trying to strengthen with the recent additions. The United States wants Assange extradited from the UK where he is currently imprisoned, but the COVID-19 outbreak has slowed down the progress of the relevant hearings.

As the new parts of the indictment detail, Assange contacted the LulzSec group leader directly, who happened to collaborate with the FBI at the time. Assange allegedly asked the hacker to provide him with classified documents, databases, PDFs, and email communication from the CIA, the NSA, and the New York Times. The FBI informant claims that the WikiLeaks founder also asked the hacking group to spam an American intelligence consulting company and create DDoS conditions that would enable Assange to perform a successful data breach - which he did.

What the American DoJ is trying to do here is to push Assange outside the “free speech” sphere, and involve him with actual hands-on hacking. We won’t comment on whether these accusations can be fabricated or not, and it’s not our job to do so, but from a legal case perspective, this move makes perfect sense. Assange isn’t only enjoying the support of the public opinion, but he also has the protections of the First Amendment on his side. The DoJ knows what the journalist’s legal team is preparing to evoke, and they are fixing things along the way, closing any gaps that may help the man slip through.

Barry Pollack, Assange’s lawyer, responded to this act by making the following statement:

“The government's relentless pursuit of Julian Assange poses a grave threat to journalists everywhere and to the public's right to know. While today's superseding indictment is yet another chapter in the US Government's effort to persuade the public that its pursuit of Julian Assange is based on something other than his publication of newsworthy truthful information. The indictment continues to charge him with violating the Espionage Act based on WikiLeaks publications exposing war crimes committed by the US Government.”

The allegations made in the latest version of the indictment go as far back as in 2009, so it will be hard to prove or disprove them, depending on which side we’re talking about and who will be pushed to produce concrete proof in court. One element that becomes apparent from all that is that Assange's extradition to the U.S. should be considered a matter of time. The hearings in front of Judge Vanessa Baraitser didn't leave any margin for conjectures that we’ll see this case unfolding any other way.

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