WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange facing 18 charges of receiving and publishing classified information

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The US Justice Department has charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with receiving and publishing classified information.

The charges are contained in an 18-count indictment.

The new charges go far beyond an initial indictment against Assange, made public last month, that accused him of conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in a conspiracy to crack a Defence Department computer password.

The new indictment says Mr Assange conspired with Ms Manning to obtain and disclose classified national defence documents, including State Department cables and reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It says his actions “risked serious harm” to the United States.

Mr Assange is in custody in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. 

The US is seeking the 47-year-old’s extradition.

More to come.