WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange arrested in London to face hacking conspiracy charge in the US

Julian Assange's lawyer says the arrest was for breach of bail and an extradition request from the U.S.

By Sean Rossman, Doug Stanglin and Bart Jansen

April 11, 2019 "Information Clearing House" WASHINGTON – After seven years of self-imposed exile, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested inside the embassy of Ecuador in London Thursday on charges of conspiring to hack government computers in what prosecutors called the largest compromise of classified information in U.S. history.

Assange, 47, was arrested Thursday by authorities in the United Kingdom to be extradited to the United States.

The charges against Assange, revealed Thursday morning, alleged that he engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password for Defense Department computers. 

The computers were connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network, which was used for classified documents and communications, prosecutors said. Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks, according to the department.

Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her, prosecutors alleged.

During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange, according to the department. Manning told Assange that “after this upload, that’s all I really have got left” the department said. Assange replied, “curious eyes never run dry in my experience," the department said.

Assange is charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison if convicted, but actual sentences are typically less than the maximum.

Barry Pollack, a U.S. lawyer for Assange, criticized the arrest and said Assange would need medical treatment that had been denied for seven years. 

"It is bitterly disappointing that a country would allow someone to whom it has extended citizenship and asylum to be arrested in its embassy," Pollack said." Once his health care needs have been addressed, the UK courts will need  to resolve what appears to be an unprecedented effort by the United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information.

Metropolitan Police moved in after Ecuador formally withdrew its asylum for Assange, an Australian native, and subsequently revoked his Ecuadorian citizenship. 

He was taken into custody on a 2012 warrant for jumping bail while facing extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations. The Swedish accusations have since been dropped but he was still wanted for the bail violation.

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Assange’s arrest shows "no one is above the law."

The arrest followed months of carefully orchestrated diplomatic maneuvering by the Ecuadorian government that had long soured on its relationship with Assange. 


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