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U.S. Assange charges 'not imminent'; first congressional hearing Thurs.


The first congressional hearing relating to WikiLeaks will come next week.

The House Judiciary Committee intends to hold a hearing on Thursday to look at how the espionage laws can be brought up to date, according to sources familiar with the committee's plan. The laws, enacted nearly a century ago, are widely considered inadequate to deal with disclosures of government secrets in the digital age.

As the Justice Department struggles with how to prosecute WikiLeaks, members of Congress from both parties have expressed interest in giving the government new authority to prosecute leaks.

As for indicting Julian Assange, a Justice Department official says legal action against him "is not imminent," despite a claim by his lawyer that something is about to happen. Even so, it's a safe bet that the government will find a way to charge him with something.

Prosecutors have several options, but there's a reason they're moving slowly, officials say. This is not a case the government wants to enter unless it's confident the prosecution is on solid ground. Losing this case, they say, would send a harmful message for protecting future secrets.