- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2020

The superseding indictment unsealed against WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange Wednesday is the latest in a growing list of developments to emerge since he was arrested last April. Here is a list of 10 key moments in the Australian’s case that have transpired in the 14 months that followed as he remains jailed in London fighting a U.S. extradition request.

1) April 11, 2019

The U.S. Department of Justice unseals a criminal indictment charging Assange shortly after he is arrested at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had lived since 2012. Filed under seal by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Va., the indictment charges him with a single count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for allegedly having offered to help former WikiLeaks source Chelsea Manning try to hack into a protected military network eight years earlier. The Justice Department says the U.S. will accordingly seek Assange’s extradition from the U.K.

2) May 23, 2019

A superseding indictment is filed charging Assange with 17 additional counts, all violations of the U.S. Espionage Act, related to receiving, obtaining and publishing classified material that Manning admittedly gave to WikiLeaks in 2010 to be published. Manning, a former Army analyst, previously served roughly seven years in military prison for her part.

3) May 31, 2019

Nils Melzer, the United Nation’s special rapporteur on torture, strongly condemned the Justice Department’s prosecution of Assange after visiting him at Belmarsh Prison in London. In a statement, the UN expert said that he believed that the time Assange spent confined within the embassy and then imprisoned behind bars amounted to “psychological torture.”

4) September 20, 2019

President Trump, who had praised WikiLeaks during his 2016 campaign for publishing material damaging to his Democratic opponent in the race, declined to comment when asked about his government’s case against Assange. “Well, you know, that’s a question I haven’t heard in a long time. I’ll leave that to you to determine,” Mr. Trump said while fielding questions from reporters following a bilateral meeting with Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

5) October 9, 2019

Spain’s National Court announces it is investigating a Spanish security firm accused of spying on Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy. Assange alleges the firm, Undercover Global SL, installed covert microphones and cameras throughout the compound that recorded his private conversation and meetings with visitors including doctors and lawyers, as seen in hidden video footage that has subsequently leaked. Undercover Global has called the allegations “totally false.”

6) November 26, 2019

Australia media reports that Mr. Morrison, the nation’s prime minister, said he is “unable to intervene” in efforts to have Assange extradited to the U.S., dismissing calls to get involved in the Aussie’s case.

7) February 19, 2020

A lawyer for Assange claims that former Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who holds the distinction of being the only sitting U.S. Congressman to have visited Assange at the embassy, said during their 2017 meeting that Mr. Trump was prepared to offer a pardon if the WikiLeaks publisher cleared Russia of involvement in his website’s acquisition of internal Democratic National Committee that it later published leading up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Spokespeople for the White House and Mr. Rohrabacher have denied the allegation.

8) Feb. 24, 2020

Extradition proceedings begin in London with a round of hearings held over the course of four days at Woolwich Crown Court in London. Another round had been scheduled to commence in May but has been postponed due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic and has yet to take place.

9) April 11, 2020

Stella Moris-Smith Robertson, a lawyer close to Assange, reveals they conceived two children together while he lived at the embassy and that she and Assange are engaged to be married.

10) June 24, 2020

The Justice Department unseals a second superseding indictment against Assange. It does not charge Assange with any additional counts, but rather it broadens the scope of the conspiracy to commit computer intrusions charge to allege that he also recruited individuals involved with the Anonymous hacktivist movement to steal data for WikiLeaks. Reacting on Twitter the next day, WikiLeaks dismissed the latest filing as a “desperate PR move.”

Assange, 48, remains imprisoned at Belmarsh pending the outcome of his extradition trial, which is currently set to resume in London in September but could be postponed further. He faces a maximum sentence of 175 years imprisonment if sent to the U.S. and convicted of all counts.

Assange maintains he acted as a journalist by releasing the classified material he is charged with making public, which includes hundreds of thousands of U.S. State Department diplomatic cables, previously unpublished information about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and details about the foreign detainees held by the U.S. at Guantanamo Bay, among other documents leaked by Manning.

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