Former prosecutor says questions will be raised around timing of Assange arrest

Former federal prosecutor Joseph Moreno told Hill.TV's "Rising" on Tuesday that questions will be raised over the timing of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange's arrest last week. 

"No doubt, people are going to raise the question, why, for a conspiracy that took place in mid-2010, are we only seeing charges seven or eight years later?" Moreno told hosts Krystal Ball and Buck Sexton. 

Assange, who had been living in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, was arrested by British authorities last week after his asylum status was revoked.

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) later announced that Assange has been charged with conspiring with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to “knowingly access a computer, without authorization and exceeding authorized access,” to obtain classified information that “could be used to the injury of the United States.”

The indictment, which was originally filed under seal in March 2018 in the Eastern District of Virginia, alleges that Assange assisted Manning in 2010 in cracking a password for a Defense Department computer that was linked to a U.S. government system used to store classified information.

Moreno said the issue of the statute of limitations in the case will come into play, and will likely result in pushback from Assange his defense team.

"Normally it's five years, so you can say 'what's going on here?'" he said. "There's an extension for terrorism-related activity. So the DOJ is saying ignore the five-year statute of limitations that normally would bring us to 2015. We get to 2018 because of this three-year extension. That's going to be vigorously fought. First in the U.K. at the extradition level, then in Virginia at the prosecution level." 

"Don't think the defense is just going to roll over and accept that," he added. 

— Julia Manchester