THE UNITED States Justice Department has filed 17 new charges against free speech hero Julian Assange, who is currently facing extradition from the UK.
The latest charges accuse the Wikileaks co-founder of receiving and unlawfully publishing the names of classified sources.
Assange, who successfully exposed war crimes carried out by the American government and military, was previously charged last month on one count of conspiring with ex-intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to gain access to the Pentagon network, and is presently serving a jail sentence in the UK for breaching bail conditions.
The 47-year-old was found guilty last month after his arrest at the Ecuadorian Embassy where he had sought refuge since 2012 over sexual assault allegations in Sweden. Assange denies any wrongdoing, with many people suspecting that the claims against him are nothing more than the establishment’s attempt to silence his increasingly popular voice.
The suspicious new indictment claims that Assange conspired with American activist and famous whistle-blower Chelsea Manning in order to obtain and disclose secret US files and also exposed and endangered confidential sources in the Middle East and China.
Wikileaks hit back after the announcement, tweeting: “This is madness. It is the end of national security journalism and the first amendment [to the US Constitution].”
Manning was found guilty in 2013 of charges including espionage for leaking secret military files to Wikileaks, but her 35-year sentence was commuted by then-President Barack Obama after a fierce outcry from the public.
The leak was one of the largest breaches of classified material in US history.
She is currently back in jail after refusing to testify to a grand jury that is investigating Wikileaks.
Separately, Swedish authorities are also seeking the Australian-born Assange after reopening the sexual assault case against him.
It follows his dramatic arrest by UK police on 11 April after Ecuador abruptly withdrew his asylum.
The ominous threat against journalism and free speech continues.