WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange faces U.S. computer-hacking charge after arrest in London


WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted in connection with a computer hacking conspiracy, the Justice Department said Thursday shortly after British police arrested him at the Ecuador’s embassy in London.

Prosecutors accused Assange of working with Chelsea Manning, a U.S. Army intelligence analyst at the time, to crack a password and access classified materials that were then leaked. The goal, prosecutors said, was to make it more difficult to track the source of the leaked information.

The case is being handled by the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of Virginia.

Assange had been living in the embassy for almost seven years, but the South American country revoked his diplomatic asylum and allowed London police to take him into custody.

Assange became notorious for his role in releasing classified U.S. documents about the country’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

More recently, however, special counsel Robert S. Mueller III detailed in court papers how WikiLeaks published Democratic Party emails stolen by Russian government hackers during the 2016 presidential race.

Ruptly, a news service of Russia Today, captured video of Assange being hauled from the embassy building. He had a full beard and gray hair pulled back in a bun, and he appeared to be arguing with the police as they loaded him into the police van.

Assange started living in the embassy in 2012 to avoid prosecution in Sweden on sexual assault allegations.

Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno, said his government made a “sovereign decision” to revoke Assange’s political asylum due to “repeated violations to international conventions and daily life.”

“Today I announce that that the discourteous and aggressive behavior of Mr. Julian Assange, the hostile and threatening declarations of its allied organization, against Ecuador, and especially the transgression of international treaties, have led the situation to a point where the asylum of Mr. Assange is unsustainable and no longer viable,” Moreno said in a video released on Twitter.