The United States government, through the Department of Justice, is seeking the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, according to a report from CNN. U.S. officials familiar with the matter say that Assange can no longer claim First Amendment protections. Prosecuting Assange has been a priority for the Department of Justice for many years, but under Attorney General Eric Holder and the Obama administration, it was determined that such a prosecution would be too difficult to achieve. Now, Trump administration officials believe they have the charges necessary to proceed.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said, “We are going to step up our effort and already are stepping up our efforts on all leaks. 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.”
Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo, in his first news conference since assuming the role at Langley, cited Wikileaks as “a non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia”—the first such accusation to come from an American official.
Wikileaks has made several damaging releases of classified U.S. intelligence information over the past decade, most notably with files provided by then-Army intelligence soldier Private Bradley Manning in 2010. Its founder, Julian Assange, has sought refuge within the Ecuadorean embassy in London after rape allegations against him led to a warrant for his arrest in Sweden. Ecuador has refused to forcibly remove Assange, despite requests from the U.S.