Intel Dem: Assange is 'a direct participant in Russian efforts to undermine the West'

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers sound alarm on China's disinformation campaign in Hong Kong Facebook users in lawsuit say company failed to warn them of known risks before 2018 breach New intel chief inherits host of challenges MORE (D-Va.) blasted Julian Assange on Thursday after the WikiLeaks founder was arrested in London, casting him as an ally in Russia’s efforts to influence politics in the U.S. and Europe.

“Julian Assange has long professed high ideals and moral superiority. Unfortunately, whatever his intentions when he started WikiLeaks, what he’s really become is a direct participant in Russian efforts to undermine the West and a dedicated accomplice in efforts to undermine American security," Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement.

"It is my hope that the British courts will quickly transfer him to U.S. custody so he can finally get the justice he deserves,” Warner said, while praising the Ecuadorian government for withdrawing Assange's asylum.

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Assange had been staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012, but was arrested by British authorities on Thursday after the embassy withdrew his asylum, effectively expelling him from the diplomatic facility.

British authorities said they were making the arrest on behalf of a U.S. extradition request.

The Department of Justice has charged Assange with alleged conspiracy to hack into computers in connection with the organizations’ release of classified information obtained by former U.S. Army private and intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. The charge carries a five-year maximum sentence.

Manning’s document dump contained approximately 90,000 Afghanistan War–related reports, 400,000 Iraq War–related reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs and 250,000 State Department cables between January and May 2010, many of which were labeled classified, according to Assange’s indictment.

U.S. law enforcement officials have long sought legal action against Assange, whose organization is notorious for publishing troves of classified government documents.

Intelligence officials and lawmakers in the U.S. have also warned about the group's actions during the 2016 presidential election, when WikiLeaks published thousands of emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces DHS cyber agency to prioritize election security, Chinese threats ABC chose a debate moderator who hates Trump MORE's then-campaign chairman.

Authorities have said that Russian hackers were responsible for the stolen emails.