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WikiLeaks' Assange may face espionage charge in US

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Dec. 25, 2011


JULIAN Assange may face espionage charges in the US after prosecutors in the case of Private Bradley Manning revealed evidence of the WikiLeaks boss' alleged role in stealing secret military documents.

During this week's hearing into the Manning case at Fort Meade,wIKILElawyers produced online chat logs which purport to show that the 40-year-old Australian coached Manning on how to break passwords and gain anonymous access to military computer networks, The (London) Times reported.

The chat logs - revealed in the US military court on Thursday - represent the first evidence the US government has produced alleging that Assange helped Manning, 24, remove and transmit files from a top-secret facility in Iraq, the report said.

Manning is accused of leaking about 250,000 secret diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, as well as video footage of a US helicopter crew laughing as they shot and killed 11 people. He served in Iraq from November 2009 until his arrest the following May.

Jennifer Robinson, a lawyer for Assange, told the newspaper that the evidence "gives us a very clear indication that the US government intends to prosecute Julian Assange and potentially others associated with WikiLeaks."

Experts said the evidence may open Assange to a charge of conspiracy to commit espionage. Assange has denied having any direct contact with Manning.

The WikiLeaks founder is currently fighting extradition from the UK to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault.