The U.S. Department of Justice is planning to prosecute controversial WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a report Thursday.
The department is confident they will be able to get him into a U.S. courtroom, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing sources familiar with the plan. Mr. Assange has been holed up in the Ecuadorean embassy in London since 2012.
Justice Department officials believe a public indictment may be a means to remove him from the embassy, the report said.
Assange fled to Sweden in 2012 over allegations of sexual assault and rape. Swedish Swedish prosecutors dropped the case last year, but he still faces an arrest for violating his bail conditions if he leaves the embassy.
Ecuadorean officials have publicly complained about hosting Mr. Assange. President Lenin Moreno referred to Mr. Assange as a “stone in our shoe.”
U.S. intelligence officials believe Wikileaks and Russian hackers partnered to release emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee during the 2016 presidential campaign. Special counsel Robert Mueller is said to be investigating connections between Roger Stone, a longtime political operative and adviser to President Trump before the 2016 election, and Wikileaks.
Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in April 2107 that Assange’s arrest would be a Justice Department priority.
Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican and member of the Armed Services and Judiciary committees, called Mr. Assange “an enemy of the people.”
“This is cut and dried: Wikileaks is an outlet for foreign propaganda and Julian Assnage is an enemy of the American people,” Mr. Sasse said in a statement. “He deserves to spend the rest of his life in an American prison. Assange is no ally to serious journalists or to defenders of free speech. He is in bed with Vladimir Putin who murders journalists and dissidents.”
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