12:13 GMT23 April 2021
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    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - WikiLeaks in a statement said US espionage charges against the organization’s founder, Julian Assange, marks the end of freedom of the press in the United States.

    "This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment", WikiLeaks said via Twitter on Thursday.

    Earlier in the day, the Justice Department announced that it indicted Assange on 17 additional charges, including conspiracy to obtain, receive and disclose national defense information as well as conspiring to commit computer intrusion.

    READ MORE: US Charges WikiLeaks Founder Assange With 17 New Criminal Offenses

    Assange's lawyer said in a separate statement that the US charges are "unprecedented" and that the criminal prosecution against Assange represents a threat to all journalists.

    If convicted, Assange faces a maximum penalty of ten years in prison on each count except for conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, for which he faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

    The United States has to provide the UK government with all necessary documents for Assange's extradition by 12 June.

    Assange was arrested in London on 11 April, after Ecuador revoked his asylum status. He was then sentenced to 50 weeks in jail for jumping bail back in 2012, when he took refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden over a sexual assault investigation, which had since been dropped. The United States is seeking Assange's extradition on charges of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion.

    Assange gained fame after WikiLeaks published a large number of classified documents, including some that exposed abuses of power and war crimes committed by US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.

    READ MORE: American Puppet: Ecuador Hands Assange's Legal, Medical Records to US


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    American Puppet: Ecuador Hands Assange's Legal, Medical Records to US
    Assange’s Defence Condemns Planned Seizure of Documents at Ecuador's Embassy
    Freedom of Press, charges, Wikileaks, Julian Assange, US
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