(CNSNews.com) – Asked on Thursday if arresting WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is a Justice Department priority, Attorney General Jeff Sessions indicated the answer is yes.
“We are going to step up our effort — and already are stepping up our efforts — on all leaks,” Sessions told a news conference in El Paso, Texas.
“This is a matter that’s gone beyond anything I’m aware of. We have professionals in the security business of the United States for many years that are shocked by the number of leaks, and some of them are quite serious,” Sessions said.
“So, yes, it is a priority. We already have begun to step up our efforts, and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,” he added.
CIA Director Mike Pompeo last week described WikiLeaks as a “hostile non-state intelligence agency.” He accused Assange of making “common cause with dictators,” by giving repressive regimes a free pass, while exploiting “the legitimate secrets of democratic governments.”
“Yes, they try unsuccessfully to cloak themselves and their actions in the language of liberty and privacy. But in reality, they champion nothing but their own celebrity,” Pompeo said of Assange and his associates.
CNN and the Washington Post reported on Thursday that U.S. officials are mulling charges against Assange for revealing government secrets, including details about the CIA’s cyber-espionage tools.
Possible charges include conspiracy, theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act, the Washington Post said, though any charges would need approval from high-ranking officials in the Justice Department.
Assange, wanted on a rape charge in Sweden, received political asylum from Ecuador, and he has been living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London since 2012. He is an Australian citizen.