New Indictment Seeks to Tie Assange Closer to Hacking Conspiracy

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has filed a new indictment against Julian Assange which explains in more detail why the authorities believe he went beyond publishing in the public interest to get hands-on in a hacking conspiracy.

The superseding indictment adds no more counts to the 18-count indictment issued in May 2019, but it seeks to “broaden the scope” of the conspiracy the WikiLeaks founder was previously charged with.

It alleges that in 2010 he “gained unauthorized access” to a NATO member’s government IT system, and that two years later he was in direct communication with a “leader” of hacking collective LulzSec, who was an FBI informant at the time.

The indictment claims that Assange provided a list of hacking targets for LulzSec, asking the leader to look for and provide WikiLeaks with mail, documents, databases and PDFs.

“In another communication, Assange told the LulzSec leader that the most impactful release of hacked materials would be from the CIA, NSA or the New York Times,” the DOJ announcement explained.

“WikiLeaks obtained and published emails from a data breach committed against an American intelligence consulting company by an Anonymous and LulzSec-affiliated hacker. According to that hacker, Assange indirectly asked him to spam that victim company again.”

This is in addition to the original charge that Assange conspired with whistleblower Chelsea Manning to crack a password hash stored on US Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet).

The new superseding indictment appears to be an attempt by the authorities to tie Assange more closely to hacking conspiracies.

The other charges, relating to the publication of hundreds of thousands of secret diplomatic cables and other documents about US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, have been heavily criticized. Observers claim they were done in the public interest and should be protected by the First Amendment.

Assange is currently in custody in the UK awaiting the outcome of an extradition request from Washington.

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