Donald Trump on US charging Julian Assange: 'It's OK with me'

Mr Assange has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London for five years

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Friday 21 April 2017 21:46 BST
Mr Assange has long warned the US was seeking to detain him
Mr Assange has long warned the US was seeking to detain him (AP)

Donald Trump, who once told supporters “I love WikiLeaks”, has said “it’s OK with me” if the Justice Department wants to charge Julian Assange.

US officials have prepared charged seeking the arrest of the Wikileaks founder. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has told reporters that securing the arrest of Mr Assange, who has been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, is a priority.

“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,” said Mr Sessions.

“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.”

The Justice Department investigation of Mr Assange and WikiLeaks, dates to at least 2010, when the site first gained widespread attention for posting thousands of obtained by the former US Army intelligence analyst now known as Chelsea Manning.

Julian Assange announces WikiLeaks will publish CIA cyber weapons

Prosecutors have struggled with whether the First Amendment precluded the prosecution of Mr Assange, but now believe they have found a way to move forward.

Mr Trump has said that he is not in the decision-making process as to whether Mr Assange should be charged. Yet according to to the Associated Press, he said if Mr Sessions and the DOJ wanted to proceed with such a move, he would be fine with the decision.

CNN said that in recent months, US officials have focused on the possibility that a new government in Ecuador would expel Mr Assange and he could be arrested. But the left-leaning presidential candidate who won the recent election in the South American nation has since promised to continue to provide a safe haven to him.

Last week in a speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, CIA Director Mike Pompeo said: “WikiLeaks directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States.”

He added: “It’s time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”

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