Justice Department charges WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with conspiracy to hack a government computer
- Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday in London and could face extradition to the US.
- Assange has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, according to the Justice Department.
- "The charge relates to Assange's alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States," the Justice Department said in a statement.
- Assange faces up to five years in prison.
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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been indicted on one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion and faces up to five years in prison.
The indictment alleges that Assange helped Chelsea Manning hack a password on a classified Pentagon computer.
A grand jury indicted him in March 2018, which was revealed when the charging document was unsealed after Assange's arrest on Thursday.
"The charge relates to Assange's alleged role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States," the US Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia said in a statement.
"Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks," the statement added.
"Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures."
Assange was arrested in London on Thursday after nearly a decade of asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy and it's unclear if he will be extradited to the US.
Until Thursday, the WikiLeaks founder had not left the Ecuadorian Embassy since 2012.
WikiLeaks has been at the center of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian election interference, and Assange is an extremely divisive figure in the US.
Assange's lawyer did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.
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