The United States government has filed a superseding indictment against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in which he was accused of conspiring with the hackers belonging to the LulzSec and Anonymous groups.
According to the US Department of Justice, the new indictment does not include any additional counts to the prior 18-count indictment that was filed against Assange in May last year.
Instead, the indictment has been updated by clarifying the depth of Assange’s alleged crimes by broadening the original charges to include more serious accusations that the WikiLeaks founder conspired and tried to recruit Anonymous and LulzSec hacker to carry out hacking on his behalf.
In 2012, Assange communicated with a leader of the LulzSec hacking group, who was also cooperating with the FBI and provided a list of targets for LulzSec to hack. With respect to one target, Assange asked the LulzSec leader to look for mail and documents, databases and PDFs and also to provide them to WikiLeaks.
In another communication, Assange told the LulzSec leader that the most impactful release of hacked materials would be from the CIA, NSA, or the New York Times.
WikiLeaks obtained and published emails from a data breach performed against an American intelligence consulting company by an ‘Anonymous’ and LulzSec-affiliated hacker. The hacker stated that Assange indirectly asked him to spam that victim company again.
The previous accusations against Assange include conspiring with the Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to crack a password hash for an Army computer to get classified material, which was later published on the WikiLeaks portal.
Assange was arrested in the UK since April 2019 for breaching his bail conditions in 2012. On the same day, the US also filed charges and an extradition request.
The 48-year-old is currently in prison in the U.K., where he is awaiting possible extradition to the United States, pending a September hearing.
With the updated superseding indictment, the DOJ tries to clarify that the charges are not only for just reporting and publishing leaked material, but also for getting involved with obtaining the hacked data.