Federal prosecutors in Virginia unveiled new charges Thursday against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, including some related to publishing classified information received from former soldier Chelsea Manning.
Those included files with the names of “human sources” who themselves provided information to U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, prosecutors said in a new indictment.
You can read the full indictment here.
“According to the superseding indictment, Assange’s actions risked serious harm to United States national security to the benefit of our adversaries and put the unredacted named human sources at a grave and imminent risk of serious physical harm and/or arbitrary detention,” prosecutors said in releasing the new charges.
Charging a leader of a media organization, even an unorthodox one like WikiLeaks, over publishing classified information is unusual and will likely lead to challenges under the First Amendment if Assange is successfully extradited from the United Kingdom. Pursuing charges against officials who leak to news organizations under the World War I-era Espionage Act has become more common in recent years, but reporters and editors usually aren’t themselves charged for publishing the leaked information.
Assange is currently in custody in the U.K. after being convicted of violating his bail conditions when he took refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy. He entered the embassy while facing a separate extradition request from Sweden, where he faced sexual assault allegations, expressing fear that he’d ultimately be sent to the United States.
Once a formal U.S. extradition request is filed, as is expected to happen next month, prosecutors can’t add additional charges against Assange, The Washington Post reports.