Julian Assange hit with new charges
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been accused of risking 'serious harm' to the US as he faces new charges.
The WikiLeaks founder was charged with by the US Justice Department with receiving and publishing classified information.
He had previously only been hit with a single computer hacking charge.
The charges were contained in an 18-count indictment announced late on Thursday.
The new charges come as Assange also fights a rape claim in Sweden, which he spent almost seven years in the Ecuadorean embassy in London avoiding.
The new charges are under the US Espionage Act, which Assange's lawyers always feared would come.
Assange was accused of providing a different user name to former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in a conspiracy to crack a Defence Department computer password.
WikiLeaks used information from Manning to publish tens of thousands of US government documents, including the names of people who helped American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and US diplomats around the world.
The new indictment said Assange conspired with Manning to obtain and disclose classified national defence documents, including State Department cables and reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It says his actions "risked serious harm" to the United States.
The case presented questions about media freedom, including whether the Justice Department is charging Assange for actions - such as soliciting and publishing classified information - that ordinarily journalists do as a matter of course.
Assange has said in court that he had no regrets about "journalism that had won many awards."
But the United States has argued that he did not have the protection of freedom of speech because of the way he gathered the information.
The 47-year-old is in prison in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. The US is seeking his extradition.
Assange was likely to remain in jail after his 50-week sentence for breaching bail ends while the Swedish investigation continues.
He was due to appear in a short hearing on May 30, before a more detailed hearing on June 12.
Both cases could take several years.