U.S. charges WikiLeaks founder Assange with conspiracy

Thomson Reuters

WASHINGTON, April 11 (Reuters) - U.S. prosecutors said on Thursday they had charged Julian Assange, founder of the WikiLeaks website, with conspiracy in trying to access a classified U.S. government computer with former U.S. Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in 2010.

Assange, arrested by British police in London and carried out of the Ecuadorean embassy there, faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison on the American charges, the U.S. Justice Department said in a statement.

His London arrest paved the way for his possible extradition to the United States.

Related: Julian Assange Photos

The Justice Department said Assange, 47, was arrested pursuant to the U.S./UK Extradition Treaty, and accused him of involvement in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States.

The indictment said that Assange in March 2010 engaged in a conspiracy to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on U.S. Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a U.S. government network used for classified documents and communications.

He was charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. (Reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington and Nathan Layne in New York; Writing by Will Dunham; Editing by Susan Heavey, Bill Rigby and Bernadette Baum)