Julian P. Assange, 47, the founder of WikiLeaks, was arrested on Thursday in the United Kingdom pursuant to the US/UK Extradition Treaty, in connection with a federal charge of conspiracy to commit computer intrusion for agreeing to break a password to a classified US government computer.
The indictment alleges that in March 2010, Assange engaged in a conspiracy with Chelsea Manning, a former intelligence analyst in the US Army, to assist Manning in cracking a password stored on US Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network (SIPRNet), a US government network used for classified documents and communications.
Manning, who had access to the computers in connection with her duties as an intelligence analyst, was using the computers to download classified records to transmit to WikiLeaks. Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log on to the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a deceptive measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to determine the source of the illegal disclosures.
If convicted, Assange faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
[Source: US Department of Justice]