The Department of Justice hopes to extradite Assange to the US to face charges of engaging in a criminal conspiracy to steal US secrets.
NEW YORK – Wikileaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London on Thursday and promptly charged by a British court with violating the terms of a former bail agreement dating back to 2010.
But potential legal issues in the U.K. are not what drove Assange to seek asylum at Ecuador’s London embassy in 2012. Assange and his attorneys fear his extradition to the U.S. in connection with the publication of government secrets pertaining to the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with tens of thousands of classified diplomatic cables.
“Since 2010 we’ve warned that Julian Assange would face prosecution and extradition to the United States for his publishing activities with Wikileaks,” Assange’s attorney Jennifer Robinson told reporters. “Unfortunately, today we’ve been proven right.”
A legal complaint unsealed Thursday by the U.S. Department of Justice charges Assange with engaging in a criminal conspiracy with Chelsea Manning to illegally obtain U.S. government documents. Assange’s public stature rose when Wikileaks published emails from Hillary Clinton’s staff and campaign during the Democratic National Convention in 2016, which appeared to show the DNC favored Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
During that time President Donald Trump praised Wikileaks publishing the emails and often boasting, how much he ‘loved Wikileaks,” during his presidential campaign.
The U.S. has already issued a provisional extradition request to bring Assange to the U.S. where he would first face charges in the Eastern District of Virginia.
Assange’s attorneys said they plan to fight extradition.
This is a developing story.