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US prosecutors weighing charges against WikiLeaks

Kirsty Wigglesworth, Associated Press

FILE – In this Feb. 5, 2016 file photo, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange speaks from the balcony of the Ecuadorean Embassy in London. Two media reports say U.S. prosecutors are preparing or closely considering charges against the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, including Assange, for revealing sensitive government secrets.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two media reports say U.S. prosecutors are preparing or closely considering charges against the anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, including its founder Julian Assange, for revealing sensitive government secrets.

CNN (http://cnn.it/2pINsBT) reported Thursday that authorities are preparing to seek Assange’s arrest. The Washington Post (http://wapo.st/2pJgy4k) reported prosecutors are weighing charges against the organization’s members after the Obama-era Justice Department declined to do so.

Possible charges include conspiracy, theft of government property and violating the Espionage Act, the newspaper said, though any charges would need approval from high-ranking officials in the Justice Department.

The move comes after WikiLeaks last month released nearly 8,000 documents that it says reveal secrets about the CIA’s cyberespionage tools for breaking into computers, cellphones and even smart TVs. It previously published 250,000 State Department cables and embarrassed the U.S. military with hundreds of thousands of logs from Iraq and Afghanistan.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo last week denounced the group as a “hostile intelligence service” and a threat to U.S. national security. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions told reporters Thursday that Assange’s arrest is a priority as the Justice Department steps up efforts to prosecute people who leak classified information to the media.

“We’ve already begun to step up our efforts and whenever a case can be made, we will seek to put some people in jail,” Sessions said.

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