Senate Intel chair: Assange put 'millions of lives at risk'

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrThe Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Trump Jr. slams Republican committee chairman: 'Too weak to stand up to the Democrats' DOJ plans to show Senate Intel less-redacted Mueller report, filing shows MORE (R-N.C.), the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, slammed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange after his arrest Thursday in London, saying his leaking of classified information risked "millions of lives."

“Under the guise of transparency, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have effectively acted as an arm of the Russian intelligence services for years. Mr. Assange engaged in a conspiracy to steal classified information, putting millions of lives at risk all over the world. Hopefully, he will now face justice,” Burr said in a statement.

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The comments follow those from Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks DOJ plans to show Senate Intel less-redacted Mueller report, filing shows MORE (Va.), the top Democrat on the Intelligence panel, who slammed Assange as “a direct participant in Russian efforts to undermine the West and a dedicated accomplice in efforts to undermine American security.” 

The WikiLeaks founder had been seeking refuge in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012 but was arrested Thursday after Ecuador withdrew his asylum and kicked him out of the building.

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

The Justice Department Thursday unveiled charges against Assange over his WikiLeaks alleged efforts to hack into computers and release classified information obtained by former U.S. Army private and intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. Assange could face up to five years behind bars.

Manning gave the organization 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.

Assange and WikiLeaks gained heightened notoriety in 2016 over their involvement in the release of hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonFrustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' Poll: Nearly half of Clinton's former supporters back Biden Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign MORE's then-campaign chairman. Authorities have since said that Russian hackers stole the documents.