FILE - In this May 1, 2019, file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange puts his fist up as he is taken from court in London. The Justice Department has charged Assange with receiving and publishing classified information. The charges are contained in a new, 18-count indictment announced May 23, 2019. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

New US charges against Assange may slow extradition from UK

May 24, 2019 - 2:52 pm

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new indictment against Julian Assange could further delay what was already expected to be a protracted battle to get the WikiLeaks founder out of a London jail cell and into a U.S. court.

It opens the door for his legal team to argue that the Espionage Act charges are political and thus not covered by an extradition treaty.

Assange is serving a 50-week sentence in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. Though the United States and the United Kingdom have a longstanding extradition treaty, one exception is for political offenses.

The charges filed Thursday accuse Assange of publishing secret documents containing the names of confidential military and diplomatic sources. The indictment alleges he directed former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history.

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