But in 2013, the Obama DOJ concluded that it could not prosecute Assange in connection with the publication of those documents because there was no way to distinguish what WikiLeaks did from what the New York Times, The Guardian, and numerous media outlets around the world routinely do: namely, work with sources to publish classified documents.
The Obama DOJ tried for years to find evidence to justify a claim that Assange did more than act as a journalist — that he, for instance, illegally worked with Manning to steal the documents — but found nothing to justify that accusation and thus, never indicted Assange (as noted, the Obama DOJ since at least 2011 was well-aware of the core allegation of today’s indictment — that Assange tried to help Manning circumvent a password wall so she could use a different username — because that was all part of Manning’s charges).
So Obama ended eight years in office without indicting Assange or WikiLeaks. Everything regarding Assange’s possible indictment changed only at the start of the Trump administration. Beginning in early 2017, the most reactionary Trump officials were determined to do what the Obama DOJ refused to do: indict Assange in connection with publication of the Manning documents.
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