Julian Assange Hit With 18 New Criminal Charges

A federal grand jury has indicted WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on 18 further charges for his alleged involvement in the 2010 leak of classified documents by Chelsea Manning.

The superseding indictment includes 17 new counts under the Espionage Act, in addition to one charge that was unsealed shortly after Assange was arrested in London in April. Each count carries a maximum sentence of between five and 10 years if convicted.

"The superseding indictment alleges that Assange was complicit with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the US Army, in unlawfully obtaining and disclosing classified documents related to the national defense," the department said in a statement.

Julian Assange arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court. Source: Getty.

The department said the indictment alleges Assange "engaged in real-time discussions regarding Manning's transmission of classified records to Assange" and "actively encouraged" Manning to hack into a military computer network. WikiLeaks published hundreds of thousands of State Department cables, documents related to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other sensitive material.

READ MORE: 'I Do Not Wish To Surrender': Julian Assange Tells Court As U.S. Extradition Hearing Begins

Manning was arrested in 2010 and convicted of espionage. She served seven years in prison before her sentence was commuted by President Obama.

In March, she was sent to jail by a federal judge in Virginia for refusing to appear before a grand jury investigating WikiLeaks. She was briefly released when the grand jury's term expired but ordered back to jail when she refused to comply with a new subpoena.

READ MORE: Julian Assange Sentenced To 50 Weeks Jail Over Skipping Bail

Julian Assange speaks to the media from the balcony of the Embassy Of Ecuador on May 19, 2017 in London. Image: Getty

Assange was until recently holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he had been granted asylum after jumping bail in 2012. He was arrested in April and ordered to serve a 50-week prison term in the UK. Federal prosecutors in the US unsealed an indictment of one conspiracy charge soon after, and Assange now faces possible extradition to the US.

Meanwhile, Swedish prosecutors have said they are reopening a rape case against Assange. They said they will seek his extradition after he has served his sentence in the UK.