LONDON — The Justice Department revealed Thursday that it has charged Julian Assange with computer hacking hours after the fugitive founder of WikiLeaks was arrested in London on behalf of a U.S. request to extradite him.
The publisher of state secrets that embarrassed governments around the world was wanted by British authorities for skipping bail in August 2012, while he was under investigation for sexual assault and rape in Sweden. He had spent almost seven years living in the Ecuadorian embassy an effort to avoid extradition to the U.S.
The DOJ said hours after Assange’s arrest at 10.15 a.m. (5:15 a.m. ET) that it had sought his extradition in connection with a federal charge of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer.”
The indictment accuses Assange of collaborating with Chelsea Manning in 2010 over the leaking and publication of classified military files. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.