The U.S. Department of Justice today filed a superseding lawsuit against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The DOJ said in a press release, “The new allegations (PDF) will not add to the additional number of previous 18-count fraud allegations returned against Assange in May.
Instead, the newly updated complaint clarifies the depth of Asliz’s alleged crime to include more key serious allegations that the WikiLeaks founder conspired and attempted to hire anonymous and lullseck hackers to run hacking on his behalf.
“In 2012, Assange contacted the top leader of the hacking group Lulzek (who was collaborating with the FBI at the time) and provided a list of ways to hack Lulzek. Respecting one goal, Assange Lulsek asked the leader to search for mails and documents, databases and PDFs (and to provide them to WikiLeaks).
In another communication, Assange Lulsek told the leader that the most impacted hacked material would come from the CIA, the NSA or the New York Times.
“WikiLeaks has received and published emails alleging data breaches by ‘anonymous’ and Lulsek-authorized hackers against American intelligence consulting firms. According to the hacker, Assange indirectly asked him to spam the damaged company again.
These widespread allegations are further compounded by previous allegations that Assange conspired with Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack the hash of an Army computer in order to obtain classified material, which he later published on the WikiLeaks portal.
Assange was arrested in the UK in April 2019 when London authorities took WikiLeaks founder into custody for violating bail conditions. The United States also filed charges and extradition requests on the same day. U.S. authorities updated the complaint in May 2019 and again.
Several journalists have criticized the U.S. for suing Assange, claiming that he was only reporting on leaked documents and was entitled to First Amendment protection.
Today, through the Seychelles objectionable complaint, the DOJ wants to make it clear that the allegations are not merely about reporting and disclosing leaked information, but about being involved in obtaining hacked data, a move that does not apply to free press protection.