WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange has been sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison, according to the American prosecutor. He is suspected of helping to crack a password for a US state computer. Assange was arrested by British police on Thursday.
In March 2010, the prosecutor said Assange was involved in “one of the largest leaks of classified information in the history of the United States.” He is said to have helped Chelsea Manning to crack a password on computers belonging to the US Department of Defense. This computer is said to be connected to SIPRNet, an American government network that contains secret documents and messages. The statement does not clarify how he would have assisted Manning.
Manning had access to these computers through her role as an analyst for the US. She downloaded the secret documents to share with WikiLeaks. By cracking the password, instead of using her own login details, she would be less easily discovered by the Ministry of Defense. According to the prosecutor, Manning and Assange were in direct contact with each other when Manning forwarded the documents. According to the prosecutor, Assange urged Manning to forward more documents, even after Manning indicated that he had nothing left.
Assange is therefore suspected of having conspired to commit the computer breach. If convicted, Assange faces a maximum prison sentence of five years, the prosecutor said. The prosecutor does indicate that penalties for federal offenses are often lower than the maximum penalty.
With the suspicion, the US Department of Justice confirms that the country has asked the United Kingdom to extradite Assange to the United States. The Australian was arrested Thursday at Ecuador’s embassy after spending nearly seven years there.