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DOJ reportedly preparing to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange

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  • The DOJ reportedly plans to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian
    Assange.
  • The exact charges prosecutors would bring are unclear, but
    they are likely to include some related to the Espionage Act.
  • Assange and WikiLeaks are at the center of the special
    counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
  • Washington has been buzzing with speculation in recent days
    that Mueller will soon drop an indictment related to WikiLeaks’
    activities during the 2016 election.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) is preparing to bring charges
against Julian Assange, the founder of the radical
pro-transparency group WikiLeaks, The Wall Street Journal
reported Thursday.

Over the past year, prosecutors are said to have discussed a
variety of charges they could bring against Assange and are
reportedly optimistic that they could get Assange, who is
currently seeking asylum at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London,
into a US court.

The US’s push comes as Assange’s relationship with Ecuador is in
decline, and as the South American country is looking to bolster
its relationship with the US.

The DOJ has been investigating Assange since 2010, and according
to The Journal, while the exact charges prosecutors want to bring
against him are unclear, they may involve the Espionage Act.

Assange and WikiLeaks are at the center of the special counsel
Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the
2016 US election.

In an indictment charging 12 Russian intelligence officers for
hacking into the Democratic National Committee and disseminating
stolen emails, Mueller’s office mentioned WikiLeaks — though not
by name — as the Russians’ conduit to release hacked
documents via the hacker Guccifer 2.0, who is believed to be a
front for Russian military intelligence.

WikiLeaks touts itself as an independent organization, but
US intelligence believes the group to be a propaganda tool for
the Kremlin. Then-CIA director Mike Pompeo also characterized
WikiLeaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”

The Journal reported that prosecutors are weighing whether
to publicly charge Assange, like they did with the Russian
nationals who have so far been indicted as part of the Russia
probe, to force the Ecuadorean embassy to turn him over to the
US.

The last indictment Mueller’s office issued was against the
12 Russian military intelligence officers in July. The special
counsel’s office has been quiet over the last month or so, likely
adhering to DOJ guidelines that bar prosecutors from taking any
overt action that could influence the outcome of an election like
the recent November midterms.

But Washington is currently buzzing with anticipation that
Mueller will drop something big soon, whether it’s in the form of
an indictment or a report in his ongoing obstruction
investigation against the president.

In recent days, speculation has mounted that he will charge
certain individuals in connection with WikiLeaks’ activities
during the election, including the longtime GOP strategist Roger
Stone and the far-right conspiracy theorist Jerome Corsi.

Assange’s lawyer told The Journal they hadn’t heard
anything about a potential DOJ case against the WikiLeaks
founder.

“We have heard nothing from authorities suggesting that a
criminal 
case against Mr. Assange is imminent,” the
attorney Barry Pollack said. “Prosecuting someone for publishing
truthful information would set a terrible and dangerous
precedent.”

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