US prepares arrest charges for Assange

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WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Photo / AP

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange could soon be flown to US as American authorities prepare charges to seek his arrest.

The new claims, which have been reported by CNN, could mark a breakthrough in the long-running case if they eventuate.

The Justice Department of Assange and WikiLeaks dates back to 2010, when the site posted thousands of pictures of files stolen by former US intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.

Assange is currently holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy, where he seeks to avoid returning to Sweden to face rape allegations, fearing an extradition agreement between Sweden and the United States could see him returned to the US for harsh punishment over the WikiLeaks publication.

US officials have in recent months considered the possibility that a new government in Ecuador could expel Assange, leading his to arrest.

However, his immediate future appears to be safe with the hand-picked candidate of socialist President Rafael Correa headed to victory in the opening round of Ecuador's presidential election.

Last week in a speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, CNN reported CIA Director Mike Pompeo went further than any US government official in describing a role by WikiLeaks that went beyond First Amendment activity.

He said WikiLeaks "directed Chelsea Manning to intercept specific secret information, and it overwhelmingly focuses on the United States."

"It's time to call out WikiLeaks for what it really is: A non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia," CNN reported Pompeo saying.

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