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THE Department of Justice “broadened” charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Wednesday – claiming he conspired with hackers linked to the shady web activist group Anonymous.

According to the DOJ, the charging document states that Assange, 48, and others looked to recruit hackers at conferences.

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According to the United States Department of Justice, the charging document states that Assange, pictured, and others looked to recruit hackers at conferences.Credit: PA:Press Association

 The charging document was revealed Wednesday

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The charging document was revealed WednesdayCredit: U.S. District Court

The DOJ revealed that a federal grand jury in Virginia returned a “second superseding indictment,” which does not add charges to the prior 18-count superseding indictment returned against Assange in May 2019.

Instead, it is said to “broaden the scope of the conspiracy” surrounding Assange’s alleged criminal case.

According to the indictment, Assange sought to find hackers at conferences in Europe and Asia – with hopes to provide WikiLeaks with classified information.

“In 2010, Assange gained unauthorized access to a government computer system of a NATO country,” the DOJ press release said about the new indictment.

“In 2012, Assange communicated directly with a leader of the hacking group LulzSec (who by then was cooperating with the FBI), and provided a list of targets for LulzSec to hack.

“With respect to one target, Assange asked the LulzSec leader to look for (and provide to WikiLeaks) mail and documents, databases and pdfs.”

 Julian Assange is pictured arriving at Supreme Court in 2012

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Julian Assange is pictured arriving at Supreme Court in 2012Credit: EPA

It added: “In another communication, Assange told the LulzSec leader that the most impactful release of hacked materials would be from the CIA, NSA, or the New York Times.

“WikiLeaks obtained and published emails from a data breach committed against an American intelligence consulting company by an ‘Anonymous’ and LulzSec-affiliated hacker. According to that hacker, Assange indirectly asked him to spam that victim company again.”

According to indictment, the allegations about recruiting hackers took place at conferences in the Netherlands and Malaysia in 2009.

The new indictment alleged that Assange told potential recruits that no legal liability for their actions existed – unless they were part of the US military.

 Julian Assange makes a hand gesture in London on May 1, 2019

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Julian Assange makes a hand gesture in London on May 1, 2019Credit: AFP or licensors

Assange, a freedom of information advocate who considers himself a political refugee, was arrested in 2019 after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

He was charged last year with conspiring with Chelsea Manning to gain access to a government computer as part of one of the largest compromises of classified information in US history.

Earlier this month, Assange was said to be too sick to attend his latest extradition court hearing because he had “respiratory problems for some time” while in prison.

Assange is currently being held in Belmarsh prison in London after being dragged out of the Ecuadorian embassy last year.

The controversial WikiLeaks founder is awaiting an extradition hearing on behalf of the United States, where he faces 17 espionage charges for leaking classified documents.

His extradition to the US is controlled by the DOJ of International Affairs and UK authorities.

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