Jun 24, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Julian Assange charged with conspiring with "Anonymous"-affiliated hackers

Julian Assange
Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The Justice Department announced on Wednesday that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been charged in a superseding indictment for recruiting and conspiring with computer hackers, including those affiliated with the hacking groups LulzSec and "Anonymous."

Why it matters: The new indictment does not add new counts to the 18-count indictment filed against Assange under the Espionage Act last year, but it does "broaden the scope of the conspiracy surrounding alleged computer intrusions with which Assange was previously charged," according to the DOJ.

The big picture: Assange is currently in prison in the U.K., where he is awaiting possible extradition to the U.S. pending a September hearing. He is reportedly in poor health.

What they're saying:

"In 2010, Assange gained unauthorized access to a government computer system of a NATO country. In 2012, Assange communicated directly with a leader of the hacking group LulzSec (who by then was cooperating with the FBI), and provided a list of targets for LulzSec to hack. With respect to one target, Assange asked the LulzSec leader to look for (and provide to WikiLeaks) mail and documents, databases and pdfs.
In another communication, Assange told the LulzSec leader that the most impactful release of hacked materials would be from the CIA, NSA, or the New York Times. WikiLeaks obtained and published emails from a data breach committed against an American intelligence consulting company by an 'Anonymous' and LulzSec-affiliated hacker. According to that hacker, Assange indirectly asked him to spam that victim company again."
— DOJ press release

Read the indictment via DocumentCloud.

Go deeper