The US Justice Department has charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with receiving and publishing classified information, including the names of confidential sources for American armed forces.
The charges are contained in an 18-count indictment.
The new charges go far beyond an initial indictment against Assange, made public last month, that accused him of conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in a conspiracy to crack a Defence Department computer password.
The new indictment says Assange conspired with Manning to obtain and disclose classified national defence documents, including State Department cables and reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It says his actions “risked serious harm” to the United States.
The case presents immediate questions about media freedom, including whether the Justice Department is charging Assange for actions — such as soliciting and publishing classified information — that journalists take as a matter of course.
Department officials believe Assange strayed far outside First Amendment protections.
The US Justice Department alleges Wikileaks caused particular harm by publishing the names of people who helped American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and diplomats around the world.
Assange is in custody in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April.
More to come.