The Department of Justice’s prosecutors have been in deep discussions over the past year about what charges can be brought against Assange and are currently optimistic that they will be able to get him into an American courtroom. Assange is currently seeking asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
The confidence by the United States is a result of Ecuador seeking to improve its relationship with the country, resulting in a decline in interest in Assange’s asylum.
Assange has been under investigation by the Department of Justice since 2010, according to the Wall Street Journal report. While there is no certainty about what charges prosecutors will bring against Assange, it is likely that it will include the Espionage Act.
Robert Mueller’s investigation into the 2016 US election and the potential Russian interference involved in it involves both Assange and his WikiLeaks organization.
Mueller’s office mentioned WikiLeaks, albeit not by name, in an indictment that charged 12 Russian intelligence officers for hacking into the Democratic National Committee and disseminating stolen emails. The release accused an organization that sounds very similar to WikiLeaks of being a conduit for Russia to release hacked documents by the hacker Guccifer 2.0, who Mueller’s investigation believes is actually Russian military intelligence.
'The @TheJusticeDept is preparing to prosecute WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange & is increasingly optimistic it will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom, according to people in Washington familiar with the matter.' https://t.co/pXovehUse1
— ????Fergus Ryan (@fryan) November 15, 2018
While WikiLeaks has described itself throughout its history as an independent organization, American intelligence has long believed that it has been operated by the Kremlin as a propaganda tool. The former director of the CIA Mike Pompeo once described the organization as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”
The report has also revealed that prosecutors are weighing the options of publicly charging Assange in the same manner as the Russians who have so far been indicted under the Russia probe. The public charges could force Ecuador’s hand and ensure Assange’s delivery to the United States.
Mueller’s office last issued an indictment in July, placing charges upon 12 Russian military intelligence officers. While the office of the special counsel has been quiet for the past month, it is likely that they are following Department of Justice guidelines that prevent prosecutors from taking actions that could influence the outcome of an election, like the midterms in November.
Still, the word in Washington is that Mueller has something big that will be released soon, with speculation that it is either an indictment or a report from his obstruction investigation against President Donald Trump.