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US accuses WikiLeaks’ Assange of helping Chelsea Manning hack gov’t computers

Julian Assange. (Cancillería del Ecuador/Released)
April 11, 2019

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested Thursday by British officials in London on a U.S. indictment that accuses Assange of conspiring with former U.S. intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

In 2010, WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of sensitive U.S. military documents obtained by Manning, then an Army private named Bradley, and the U.S. issued an indictment against Assange on the charges of conspiracy, the Washington Post reported Thursday.

Assange is accused of helping Manning breach Pentagon computers, which made it possible for the pair to collect the documents.

“The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications,” a Department of Justice release stated Thursday.

Assange’s assistance in helping Manning crack passwords directly allowed her to access the computers under user profiles 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,” the DOJ statement noted.

The two engaged in communication as Manning was breaching the computers.

“During the conspiracy, Manning and Assange engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning’s transmission of classified records to Assange. The discussions also reflect Assange actively encouraging Manning to provide more information. During an exchange, Manning told Assange that ‘after this upload, that’s all I really have got left.’ To which Assange replied, ‘curious eyes never run dry in my experience,'” the statement added.

Manning was convicted and served out seven years of a 35-year sentence, which was commuted by former President Barack Obama in January 2017, just days before he left office. Manning was released from prison in May 2017.

Manning returned to jail last month on a contempt of court charge for refusing to testify on WikiLeaks.

Assange has been in London’s Ecuadoran Embassy since 2012, but was arrested after Ecuadoran President Lenin Moreno withdrew Assange’s asylum, citing repeated violations of international law.

Assange will be extradited to the U.S. where he faces a maximum of five years for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.