Reports: WikiLeaks founder may face criminal charges in U.S.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange leaves the Supreme Court in London after a 2012 hearing to avoid extradition to Sweden. Photo by Hugo Philpott/UPI | License Photo

April 20 (UPI) — Federal prosecutors are considering criminal charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, CNN and the Washington Post reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources.

Justice Department investigators are weighing whether WikiLeaks bears criminal responsibility for leaking diplomatic cables and military documents in 2010, and the more recent revelation of CIA cyber-tools, the Post reported.

Prosecutors have found a way to move forward despite First Amendment concerns, CNN reported.

Last week, CIA Director Mike Pompeo called WikiLeaks a “hostile agent” in service to U.S. rivals.

Assange, 45, has been sitting tight in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, avoiding an arrest warrant on rape charges in Sweden.

WikiLeaks attracted international attention in 2010 when it published documents furnished by whistleblower Chelsea Manning, formerly Bradley Manning, about U.S. activities in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was later convicted of 21 criminal charges and sentenced to 35 years in prison, but will be released in May after President Barack Obama commuted her sentence before he left office in January.

WikiLeaks was also involved in the publications of materials last year that were harmful to the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

Assange’s attorney, Barry J. Pollack, said there was “no legitimate basis for the Department of Justice to treat WikiLeaks differently than it treats other journalists.”

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