WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. filed new charges Thursday against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, accusing him of placing the United States at risk of "serious harm" by publishing thousands of secret and classified documents, including the names of confidential sources for American armed forces. In an 18-count, superseding indictment, Justice Department prosecutors allege that Assange directed former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in one of the largest compromises of classified information in U.S. history. The case presents immediate questions about media freedom, including whether the Justice Department is charging Assange for actions — such as soliciting and publishing classified information — that ordinarily journalists do as a matter of course. Department officials said Thursday they believe Assange strayed far outside First Amendment protections. The new Espionage Act charges go far beyond an initial indictment against Assange made public last month that accused him of conspiring with Manning to crack a defense computer password. Wikileaks caused particular harm by publishing the names of people who helped American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. diplomats around the world. The new indictment says Assange conspired with Manning to obtain and disclose classified national defense documents, including State Department cables and reports on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prosecutors say his actions "risked serious harm" to the United States. Assange, 47, is in custody in London after being evicted from the Ecuadorian Embassy in April. The U.S. is seeking his extradition. US charges WikiLeaks founder with publishing classified info If we allow assange to be crucified here, we will be a crucial step closer to being ruled under a totalitarian state. By thrusting the truth upon the people of earth, WikiLeaks helped create movements worldwide like the Arab Spring and Occupy. And don’t forget, at first WikiLeaks and Assange were celebrated for their amazing work. In 2011 even Amnesty International hailed WikiLeaks as one of the Arab Spring catalysts. The Guardian said: “The year 2010 may well be remembered as a watershed year when activists and journalists used new technology to speak truth to power and, in so doing, pushed for greater respect for human rights. … It is also the year when repressive governments faced the real possibility that their days were numbered.” So why have so many outlets and people turned against Assange and WikiLeaks? Because it turned out he wasn’t revealing only repressive Arab regimes. He also revealed U.S.-backed coups and war crimes around the world. He exposed the criminality and villainy of the American ruling elite. Nothing published on WikiLeaks has ever been proven untrue. Compare that record to CNN, MSNBC, Fox News or any mainstream outlet. Assange has been nominated for multiple Nobel Peace Prizes, and nearly every respected media outlet has used source material from WikiLeaks in their reporting. Yet after all this and after seven years in captivity, the man who laid bare our criminal leaders and showed each one of us our chains is not receiving parades and accolades. He and those who helped him reveal the truth are the only ones endlessly punished. We are all Julian Assange. As long as he’s imprisoned, we can never be free.