As it turns out, the US did secretly charge Assange with conspiring with Chelsea Manning in an attempt to break into a protected Department of Defence computer network (the Secret Internet Protocol Network, SIPRNet) using another username.
The U.S. indictment, originally issued in secret by an Alexandria, Virginia-based grand jury in March 2018, said Assange in March 2010 engaged in a conspiracy to help Manning crack a password for a classified U.S. government network.
In the unsealed affidavit, prosecutors said Manning also had access to other US government databases, including one relating to the USA military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and a State Department database containing military cables. Manning replied "i've already exposed quite a bit, just no-one knows yet. i'll slip into darkness for a few years, let the heat die down".
Telecommunications vice minister Patricio Real told reporters the websites for the country's presidency, central bank and foreign ministry, among others, has received 40 million hacking attempts per day since Assange was dragged out of the embassy on Thursday by London police. Those ranged from diplomatic cables to other data implicating USA military personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan in covering up civilian casualties, enabling torture, and perhaps most infamously, opening fire in Baghdad from Apache gunships, killing at least a dozen, including two Reuters journalists.
Manning was arrested two months later in Iraq where she was on duty. The person had knowledge of the financial day-to-day operations of WikiLeaks and talked about events and matters that Assange was known to be involved in.
The affidavit isn't clear on whether Assange was able to figure out the password.
Manning provided Assange with almost 750,000 classified or sensitive military and diplomatic documents, which Assange then published on WikiLeaks, the online disclosure platform he founded in 2006.
Manning was sentenced in 2013 to 35 years in military prison for leaking classified data, but had 28 years of his sentence commuted by President Barack Obama. But the Trump administration has made prosecuting Assange a priority with then CIA director Mike Pompeo calling WikiLeaks a "nonstate hostile intelligence service".
Since 2012, Assange had been residing in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced a probe over allegations of sexual offenses.