US Department of Justice files new charge sheet against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for collaborating Anonymous, Gnosis, AntiSec and LulzSec hackers
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has been charged with colluding with the Anonymous hacking group and erstwhile LulzSec hackers by the United States Department of Justice in a fresh indictment (PDF) filed in the court. Assange is facing extradition charges in United Kingdom and is presently incarcerated at HM Prison Belmarsh. He is said to be unwell at present.
Who is Julian Assange?
Julian Assange is an Australian who founded WikiLeaks in 2006 as an activist website for leaking important secrets that governments around the world don’t want their citizens to see and know. WikiLeaks shot to prominence when it published NSA leaks by U.S. Army intelligence analyst Bradley aka Chelsea Manning. Manning leaked NSA internal documents pertaining to Iraq War and Afghanistan War. Chelsea was arrested in 2010 and was imprisoned until 2017 when her sentence was commuted. At the same time, the United States launched an investigation into Assange and filed an extradition warrant against him.
Assange surrendered to UK police on 7 December 2010 but was released on bail of $400,000 Assange breached his bail and fled to the Ecuadorian embassy seeking asylum. He was granted asylum and stayed in the Ecuador embassy till 2019 when the asylum was revoked by the Ecuador authorities. He was immediately taken into custody by the British police and is undergoing extradition trial.
When Assange was arrested, there was a public outcry against his detainment. The privacy activists and free media foundations all over the world cited Assange was merely reporting on leaked documents and was entitled to First Amendment protection. Today’s US DoJ indictment is meant to clear that perception. The indictment clearly states that Assange is not wanted just for leaking NSA documents on Wikileaks but also for colluding with the Anonymous hacker group and LulzSec hackers.
These new charges are in addition to the previous indictment filed by DoJ which accuses Assange of conspiring with Chelsea Manning to crack a password hash for an Army computer and leak NSA secret documents.
The new indictment says,
In 2012, Assange communicated directly with a leader of the hacking group LulzSec (who by then was 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 (and provide to WikiLeaks) mail and documents, databases and PDFs. 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 committed against an American intelligence consulting company by an ‘Anonymous’ and LulzSec-affiliated hacker. According to that hacker, Assange indirectly asked him to spam that victim company again.
The LulzSec hackers were a hacking group in the 2000s. These hackers hacked into big company websites for Lulz or fun. The LulzSec member who turned snitch is definitely Sabu or Hector Monsegur. Sabu was arrested in 2011 and immediately snitched on LulzSec operations. In fact, he collaborated with the FBI in nailing important LulzSec members like James Jeffery and Ryan Clear. Sabu also tried to trap Nadim Kobeissi, author of the secure communication software Cryptocat, but without success. After the arrest and snitching of Sabu, the LulzSec broke down.
The US Department of Justice asserts that Assange communicated with Gnosis, AntiSec, LulzSec and Anonymous hacktivists to provide them targets for hacking. The DoJ indictment states that Assange contacted Laura Lei and Kayla from the Anonymous hacking group to hack into a cybersecurity company. The document doesn’t say whether the LulzSec or Anonymous were able to hack into the targets provided by Assange but does say that LulzSec DDoSed CIA website.
It remains to be seen when Assange is extradited to the United States and when he will face these fresh charges. At present, he is unwell and recuperating in a UK prison.