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U.S. Preparing Charges Against WikiLeaks Founder Assange


U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions (file photo)

U.S. media outlets are reporting that the Justice Department is preparing charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions did not answer questions about Assange directly at an April 21 news conference but said, “We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks."

"Whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail," he added.

The Justice Department declined to comment on media reports about Assange, who has been holed up at the Ecuadoran Embassy in London since 2012.

Assange has been under the threat of extradition to Sweden, where he faces a rape allegation that he denies. He has expressed fears that if he is sent to Sweden, that country would extradite him to the United States.

The Washington Post, citing unnamed U.S. officials, said prosecutors have been drafting a memo on potential charges against Assange and members of WikiLeaks.

The charges potentially include conspiracy, theft of government property, and violations of the Espionage Act, the Post reported.

Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo described Wikileaks as a "hostile" intelligence service abetted by Russia, and Assange as a "fraud."

During the U.S. presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump routinely praised WikiLeaks after it released hacked e-mails related to his rival, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

U.S. officials have said the e-mails were hacked with the aid of the Russian government in its bid to influence the U.S. election.

Critics say the release of the e-mails late in the race may have helped tip the election to Trump.

Based on reporting by AFP and AP
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