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Julian Assange likely won't face US charges for publishing leaks, reports Washington Post

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Julian Assange flickr espenmoe cc
Julian Assange flickr espenmoe cc

The Justice Department will likely choose not to bring charges against Julian Assange for publishing the troves of classified documents leaked to him by Chelsea Manning, reports The Washington Post. Anonymous US officials tell the Post that the decision isn't final, but that it's looking unlikely that charges will be made unless Assange were implicated in some additional crime. "If you are not going to prosecute journalists for publishing classified information, which the department is not, then there is no way to prosecute Assange," Matthew Miller, a former Justice Department spokesman, tells the Post.

WikiLeaks remains skeptical

Assange is reportedly being viewed just as a publisher or a journalist from a traditional publication, such as The New York Times or the Guardian, would be. According to the Post, the Justice Department believes that prosecuting Assange would be the same as prosecuting those papers for publishing other leaks. It even reports that the department feels that it would have to begin prosecuting them it if it also indicted Assange.

Assange's nonprofit, WikiLeaks, tells the Post that it'll remain skeptical of reports about the department's intent until it issues "an open, official, formal confirmation that the US government is not going to prosecute WikiLeaks." A grand jury is still investigating WikiLeaks and Assange, but the Post reports that it's unclear whether an announcement would be made whenever it reached a formal decision.

"We have repeatedly asked the Department of Justice to tell us what the status of the investigation was with respect to Mr. Assange," Barry Pollack, an attorney for Assange, tells the Post. "They have declined to do so. They have not informed us in any way that they are closing the investigation or have made a decision not to bring charges against Mr. Assange." For now Assange remains in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he's been staying in political asylum to avoid British extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault.