They are likely to trigger a battle over whether Assange was acting as a journalist - something he claims but the USA disputes.
The Trump Administration's decision to charge Assange for attracting - and then publishing - classified material is expected to provoke blowback on First Amendment grounds. It says his actions "risked serious harm" to the United States. The indictment alleges Assange had a "role in one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States".
According to the indictment, she gave Assange and WikiLeaks information related to "approximately 90,000 Afghanistan war-related significant activity reports, 400,000 Iraq war-related significant activities reports, 800 Guantanamo Bay detainee assessment briefs, and 250,000 U.S. Department of State cables".
Zach Terwilliger, the US attorney in the eastern district of Virginia, said that Assange is "not charged simply because he's a publisher".
The Wikileaks founder was arrested in London in April by United Kingdom authorities after he was evicted from the Ecuadorian embassy.
Trump lifts steel, aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico
Removal of those tariffs on Canada has become a key demand for the administration to win support of the reworked trade agreement. The Commerce Department reached the same conclusion about Canadian and Mexican steel and aluminum imports nearly one year ago.
WikiLeaks has tweeted in response to the charges, saying: "This is madness".
The superseding indictment released Thursday expands upon an earlier indictment of Assange for allegedly conspiring to hack US government computers.
Julian Assange was charged Thursday in an 18-count superseding indictment for his role in orchestrating the 2010 WikiLeaks disclosures, described by the us government as "one of the largest compromises of classified information in the history of the United States". It has not and never has been the department's policy to target them for reporting. That grand jury is convened at the same federal court where prosecutors filed their charges against Assange.
The Justice Department's quick turn-around with the filing of a more substantial indictment against Assange is not surprising.