US 'draws up secret charges' against WikiLeaks' Assange

US prosecutors have drawn up secret charges against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, a confidential email cited by media today said, as his lawyer demanded Australia start protecting him.

The email is one of a huge number from the US-based global intelligence company Stratfor that the whistleblowing organisation began publishing Monday. Internal correspondence to Stratfor analysts from vice-president of intelligence Fred Burton said: "We have a sealed indictment on Assange," according to the Sydney Morning Herald.

The newspaper, which has access to the emails through an investigative partnership with WikiLeaks, said the comment on January 26 last year was made in response to a media report about US investigations targeting WikiLeaks.

The information came with the request to protect it and not publish, the paper said, adding that Burton had close ties to the US intelligence and law enforcement agencies. Assange, an Australian citizen, is awaiting a British Supreme Court decision on his appeal against extradition to Sweden on sexual assault allegations.

He strongly denies the claims, saying they are politically motivated and linked to the activities of WikiLeaks. Assange fears being sent to Stockholm would open the way for his extradition to the United States to face charges of spying linked to the leaking of classified military documents by US soldier Bradley Manning.

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