US prepares charges to investigate Julian Assange

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is now a priority for the US.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange participates via video link at a news conference marking the 10th anniversary of the secrecy-spilling group in Berlin, Germany, in 2016.

The US Justice Department is stepping up efforts to investigate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange over leaks of classified information,  Attorney General Jeff Sessions said on Thursday.

The former Alabama senator said the arrest of Assange is now a priority for the US.

"We've already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we'll seek to put people in jail." said Sessions.

During the past few weeks, prosecutors have been drafting a memo that looks at charges against Assange and members of WikiLeaks over conspiracy, theft of government property and violations of the Espionage Act, the Washington Post reported, citing unnamed US officials.

WikiLeaks has published secret documents from the US government and others and says its mission is to fight government secrecy and promote transparency. 

CIA Director Mike Pompeo last Thursday called WikiLeaks a "hostile intelligence service," and rebuked leakers who have plagued US intelligence.

Assange has sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012, after taking refuge there to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of rape, which he denies.

TRTWorld and agencies