WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in London on a U.S. warrant charging him over his alleged role in a massive leak of military and diplomatic documents in 2010, the Justice Department said Thursday.
Assange faces up to five years in jail on a federal charge of “conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified U.S. government computer,” according to a statement.
The indictment alleges Assange conspired with Chelsea Manning, a former U.S. Army intelligence analyst, to crack a password stored on Department of Defense computers, leading to “one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States,” the statement said.
The documents obtained by Manning and published by Wikileaks showed evidence of possible war crimes committed U.S. military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan.
One video obtained by Manning, for example, showed the U.S. Army killing a dozen unarmed civilians.
A lawyer for Assange condemned the United States on Thursday for seeking his extradition for “publishing truthful information.”
Barry Pollack, the U.S. attorney for Assange, also said he was disappointed that Ecuador allowed him to be arrested at its embassy in London.
“It is bitterly disappointing that a country would allow someone to whom it has extended citizenship and asylum to be arrested in its embassy,” Pollack said in a statement on Twitter.
“We hope that the U.K. will now give Mr. Assange access to proper health care, which he has been denied for seven years.
“Once his health care needs have been addressed, the UK courts will need to resolve what appears to be an unprecedented effort by the United States seeking to extradite a foreign journalist to face criminal charges for publishing truthful information,” Pollack said.
Following his arrest, Assange was taken to Westminster Magistrates’ Court, where he plead “not guilty,” according to the BBC.