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:

Go deeper

Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers sue CVS, alleging drug pricing fraud

Photo: John Lamparski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Six Blue Cross Blue Shield insurers have sued CVS Health, alleging the pharmacy chain overcharged them based on "artificially inflated prices" for generic drugs and concealed the true cash prices of those drugs.

The big picture: CVS has faced legal scrutiny over its cash discount programs since 2015, and this lawsuit adds big names to a mounting problem.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

New Zealand has only eight active novel coronavirus cases and no COVID-19 patients in hospital after another day of zero new infections. However, the death toll rose to 22.

Zoom in: A top health official told a briefing a 96-year-old woman "was regarded to having recovered from COVID-19 at the time of her death, and COVID-19 is not recorded as the primary cause of her death on her death certificate." But it was decided to include her in the overall tally of deaths related to the virus.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 5,690,951 — Total deaths: 355,575 — Total recoveries — 2,350,071Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,699,073 — Total deaths: 100,396 — Total recoveries: 391,508 — Total tested: 15,192,481Map.
  3. Public health: CDC issues guidelines for reopening officesFauci says data is "really quite evident" against hydroxychloroquine.
  4. States: California hospitals strained by patients in MexicoTexas Supreme Court blocks mail-in expansion to state voters.
  5. Business: MGM plans to reopen major Las Vegas resorts in June — African American business owners have seen less relief from PPP, Goldman Sachs says.
  6. Tech: AI will help in the pandemic — but it might not be in time for this one.
  7. World: EU proposes a massive pandemic rescue package.
  8. 1 🎶 thing: Local music venues get rocked by coronavirus.
  9. 🎧 Podcast: Trump vs. Twitter ... vs. Trump.
  10. What should I do? When you can be around others after contracting the coronavirus — Traveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  11. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy