Julian Assange has been charged in the US with for trying to break a password for classified documents that Chelsea Manning had downloaded illegally. It is not an espionage charge.
There is ample evidence to prove the allegations, including Jabber chats which they probably thought was totally secure (silly them.) They deleted chat logs in attempts to hide what they were doing and, obviously, it didn’t help.
The single charge, conspiracy to commit computer intrusion, stems from what prosecutors said was his agreement to break a password to a classified United States government computer. It is not an espionage charge, a significant detail that will come as a relief to press freedom advocates.
From the indictment (PDF):
Cracking the password would have allowed Manning to log onto the computers under a username that did not belong to her. Such a measure would have made it more difficult for investigators to identify Manning as the source of disclosures of classified information.
Prior to the formation of the password-cracking agreement, Manning had already provided WikiLeaks with hundreds of thousands of classified records that she downloaded from departments and agencies of the United States, including the Afghanistan war-related significant activity reports and Iraq war-related significant activities reports.
The primary purpose of the conspiracy was to facilitate Manning’s acquisition and transmission of classified information related to the national defense of the United States so that WikiLeaks could publicly disseminate the information on its website.
On or about March 2, 2010, Manning copied a Linux operating system to a CD, to allow Manning to access a United States Department of Defense computer file that was accessible only to users with administrative-level privileges.
On or about March 8, 2010, Manning provided Assange with part of a password stored on United States Department of Defense computers connected to the Secret Internet Protocol Network.