DOJ Hits Julian Assange With 18 Counts Of Espionage

USA Today reports:

WikiLeaks found Julian Assange was charged Thursday with conspiring to obtain national security secrets in what prosecutors have described as one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

In all, federal prosecutors filed 18 new charges against Assange. They include allegations that he aided and abetted former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning’s efforts to leak classified documents to the anti-secrecy group.

Prosecutors alleged that Assange did so with reason to believe that the information would be used to injure the United States or help a foreign country. Prosecutors also alleged that Assange also revealed the names of intelligence sources in Afghanistan, China, Iran, Iraq and Syria.

The New York Times reports

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.