The investigation of Julian Assange dates back to 2010 for the Justice Department when his website, WikiLeaks, first gained notoriety by posting thousands of stolen files provided by Bradley Manning, now going under the name Chelsea Manning. Since then, prosecutors have had difficultly in regards to the First Amendment precluding Assange’s prosecution but believe they have now found a way to move forward on it.
During the Obama administration, Eric Holder (Attorney General) had determined it would be quite difficult, if not impossible, to bring charges against the website founder in part due to to the fact that WikiLeaks wasn’t the only media outlet that published the stolen documents. Many outlets, such as The New York Times, did as well. Any possible charges were put on hold as US officials continued to look for ground by which to proceed.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said at a news conference Thursday that Assange’s arrest is a “priority.”
“We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks,” he said. “This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals that have been in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks and some of them are quite serious. So yes, it is a priority. We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail.”
Assange compares WikiLeaks to a news media organization that uses documents provided by whistleblowers to expose the actions of governments and powerful corporations.
Mike Pompeo, however, stated “Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms. He’s sitting in an Embassy in London. He’s not a US citizen,”