US charges against Julian Assange unlikely, officials say


Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the Ecuadorian Embassy on December 20, 2012 in London, England.


Peter Macdiarmid

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is unlikely to face US charges for publishing classified documents, according to several Justice Department officials.

The officials, speaking to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, said government lawyers have all but concluded they will not bring charges against Assange.

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The reason? 

Because doing so would mean the government would also have to prosecute US news organizations and journalists involved in the WikiLeaks disclosures, according to the officials.

"The problem the department has always had in investigating Julian Assange is there is no way to prosecute him for publishing information without the same theory being applied to journalists,” former Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller told the Post. “And if you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange.”

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But Assange and his lawyers aren't buying it.

They want the Justice Department to make a formal statement that it will not prosecute him, and WikiLeaks tweeted it was "skeptical" of the Post story because it relied on anonymous sources.

The Justice Department on Tuesday declined to comment on the matter.

Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for more than a year, claiming he fears extradition to the US from Sweden over the document leaks.