May 23, 2019

Julian Assange indicted on 17 new counts under Espionage Act

Julian Assange in a police car after being arrested. Photo: Jack Taylor/Getty Images

The Justice Department announced Thursday that a grand jury in Virginia has returned an 18-count superseding indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for violating the Espionage Act by leaking U.S. military and diplomatic documents.

Why it matters: The new indictment adds 17 charges to the single count Assange was indicted on last month, and could raise significant questions about First Amendment protections for publishers of classified information.

  • Unlike the first indictment, which charged Assange with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack into a Defense Department computer, the new counts allege that he and Manning sought to "to subvert lawful restrictions on classified information and to publicly disseminate it."
  • The indictment also raises the stakes for the extradition battle playing out in U.K. courts, as Assange is also facing a revived investigation into rape charges from authorities in Sweden.

Be smart: As University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck notes in a Twitter thread, "The issue isn't whether Assange is a "journalist"; this will be a major test case because the text of the Espionage Act doesn't distinguish between what Assange allegedly did and what mainstream outlets sometimes do, even if the underlying facts/motives are radically different."

Read the indictment:

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Trump administration asks Congress for $2.5 billion to fight coronavirus

President Trump with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar at the White House in September. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Trump administration sent a letter to Congress Monday requesting a funding commitment of at least $2.5 billion to help combat the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Details: The request for a lump sum account for the Department of Health and Human Services includes $1.25 billion in new funds to fight COVID-19 and $535 would come from untouched funds for the Ebola virus.

WHO won't call coronavirus a pandemic as cases spread

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins, the CDC, and China's Health Ministry. Note: China numbers are for the mainland only and U.S. numbers include repatriated citizens.

The World Health Organization will not yet call the coronavirus a pandemic, claiming that needs across affected countries are too varied and the classification would increase fear, per a briefing Monday.

The big picture: As South Korea and Italy stepped up emergency measures in efforts to thwart the spread of the virus, WHO expressed concern about infections with no clear link to China. COVID-19 has killed at least 2,620 people and infected almost 80,000 others, with all but 27 deaths occurring in mainland China.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 4 hours ago - Health

The global scramble to contain the coronavirus

Taking precaution, in the Philippines. Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images

The coronavirus is spreading quickly in cities nowhere near Wuhan, China, and the window to prevent a global pandemic is narrowing.

Zoom in: Here's a look at what comes with a coronavirus outbreak in communities outside China that have been hardest hit so far.

Go deeperArrow4 hours ago - World