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Assange team sees no sign of resolving US charges

A lawyer for Wikileaks founder Julian Assange said his legal team saw no indication of resolution to US charges against him, following a news report that a plea deal was being explored.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the US Justice Department is considering whether to allow Assange to plead guilty to a reduced charge of mishandling classified information.

The newspaper cited people familiar with the matter.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department declined to comment on the report.

"It is inappropriate for Mr Assange's lawyers to comment while his case is before the UK High Court other than to say we have been given no indication that the Department of Justice intends to resolve the case and the United States is continuing with as much determination as ever to seek his extradition on all 18 charges, exposing him to 175 years in prison," Assange's lawyer, Barry Pollack, said in an emailed statement.

The newspaper said that in recent months officials at the Justice Department and Assange's legal team have had preliminary discussions about a plea deal but that the discussions "remain in flux and the talks could fizzle."

Assange is battling extradition from Britain to the US, where he is wanted on criminal charges over the release of confidential US military records and diplomatic cables in 2010. Washington says the release of the documents had put lives in danger.

Assange's supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been victimised because he exposed US wrongdoing, including in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. If extradited, Assange faces a sentence of up to 175 years in a maximum security prison.

The Australian government, multiple rights groups and leading media organisations have urged the charges against Assange, who is an Australian citizen, be dropped.