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

Sen. Richard BurrRichard Mauze BurrHoekstra emerges as favorite for top intelligence post Trump casts uncertainty over top intelligence role Trump withdraws Ratcliffe as Intelligence pick 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 WarnerFacebook users in lawsuit say company failed to warn them of known risks before 2018 breach New intel chief inherits host of challenges Overnight Defense: US, Russia tensions grow over nuclear arms | Highlights from Esper's Asia trip | Trump strikes neutral tone on Hong Kong protests | General orders ethics review of special forces 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 ClintonThe exhaustion of Democrats' anti-Trump delusions Poll: Trump trails three Democrats by 10 points in Colorado Soft levels of support mark this year's Democratic primary MORE's then-campaign chairman. Authorities have since said that Russian hackers stole the documents.