The US authorities seek to accuse Wikileaks founder Julian Assange of espionage so that he can be punished by death, Wikileaks said on Twitter on Friday.
"US Department of Justice is attempting to build a case against Julian Assange based on the Espionage Act. Convictions under the Espionage Act can be punished by death," TASS quotes the tweet as saying.
Assange founded the WikiLeaks portal in 2006 to publish classified information about the activities of a number of governments, including that of the United States. After harassment charges had been brought against him in Sweden in 2012, Assange sought refuge in London's Ecuadorian Embassy to escape extradition. The rape case was dropped in 2017 but the United Kingdom continued to insist that Assange be arrested over his failure to appear in court in London.
Assange was arrested by the United Kingdom’s Metropolitan Police on April 11 after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno had announced the withdrawal of his asylum. His lawyers say that if extradited to the United States, Assange may face a 35-year prison term or capital punishment. The US Department of Justice has said, though, that Assange may get a five-year prison term at most for computer hacking.