Could Report on 'CIA Plot' to Kill Assange Help WikiLeaks Founder Evade Extradition to US?
A report claiming that the CIA plotted to kidnap or assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sparked ire among his supporters. Retired UN Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order Alfred-Maurice de Zayas spoke to Sputnik about the alleged plot.
Yahoo News journalists dropped a bombshell on 26 September alleging that CIA and Trump administration officials considered kidnapping or even killing WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as he began his fifth year in Ecuador’s UK Embassy in 2017.
According to the journos, these discussions were triggered by WikiLeaks’ publication of highly sensitive CIA hacking tools, known as "Vault 7."
Yahoo News referred to conversations with more than 30 former US intelligence and security officials to back the story. However, former President Donald Trump has denied that he considered assassinating Assange: "It’s totally false, it never happened," he said. "In fact, I think he’s been treated very badly."
Sputnik: What's your take on the expose and its timing? Has it triggered new concerns about Assange's security in Belmarsh Prison?
Alfred de Zayas
: I am not surprised about the revelation. The CIA always has a plan B and plan C
, and under Mike Pompeo it was surely a rogue organisation. One would hope that the exposure and timing of the revelation should help the case of Julian Assange before the UK courts. As we already know from UN Rapporteur on torture Professor Nils Melzer, the US will not stop at anything and the administration of justice in the US and UK has been thoroughly corrupted by politics.
Therefore, it would be contrary to UK law and international law, to extradite Julian Assange to a country that demonstrably subverts the rule of law. Nils Melzer’s book 'Der Fall Julian Assange' (Piper Verlag, München 2021) is a must read. The revelations are worse than those in the 1898 Dreyfus Affair. Melzer is today’s Emile Zola.
Sputnik: Don't you find it strange that then CIA chief Pompeo would seek to eliminate Assange given that the WikiLeaks founder could potentially reveal who gave him files implicating Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and therefore vindicate Donald Trump? What's your take on Trump's statement that he never plotted to kill Assange?
Alfred de Zayas: Whether Republican or Democrat, the US government wants Assange dead and silenced. There would have been short-term advantage with regard to the files implicating Hillary Clinton – but the anti-Assange witch-hunt is a national crusade. Yes, I do believe Trump on this one – I am persuaded that the CIA did not share its plans with him.
Sputnik: The Yahoo report noted that the CIA could not prove that WikiLeaks was working at the behest of the Russian government and therefore the agency designated the organisation as "a non-state hostile intelligence service." Why did the CIA nonetheless try to link Assange to Moscow and supposedly prepared the plan to prevent him from "fleeing" to Russia?
Alfred de Zayas: One thing is the intelligence that the CIA collects and the internal evaluation thereof. Another thing is the propagandistic value of linking Assange to Moscow. In hard ball politics, anything is allowed. That is why public CIA pronouncements lack credibility, but the mainstream media, which is an echo chamber of the “deep state,” use “fake news” from the CIA very ably to create a “mood” against whoever is to be targeted.
Sputnik: Do you think the Biden administration launch an investigation into the matter?
Alfred de Zayas
: Probably not. There is a culture of impunity in my country, the United States. The mainstream media is also complicit in keeping it down and not demanding accountability from the CIA, from Pompeo, Trump or from Biden
Sputnik: Could Yahoo's bombshell serve as yet another argument in favour of rejecting Assange's extradition to the US?
Alfred de Zayas: If the UK court had any commitment to the rule of justice, it would already had dismissed the extradition case as frivolous and vexatious. For anyone with eyes, the case is a political case, not a legal case. Moreover, the rule of non-refoulement is absolute. If anyone can demand the protection of the 1951 Refugee convention, it is Julian Assange, because he falls into the definition of a refugee – a person who has a well-founded fear of persecution if extradited. Of course Assange’s defence attorneys will use the argument, but the UK judiciary is not listening and has not been listening for a long time. The hijacking of the rule of law by politics is a done deal.
Sputnik: What does the future hold in store for Assange? Could he be released from prison in the near future?
Alfred de Zayas: If the mainstream media demanded Assange’s release, if the major NGO’s like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch demanded it, if the High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet demanded it – Assange would be released tomorrow. Already the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention ruled in 2015 that his detention was arbitrary and contrary to Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights. They demanded his release in 2016 and have repeated their request several times.
UN Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer has called his detention a form of torture and has similarly demanded his immediate release. During my years as rapporteur, I also demanded his release. But the UK is a lapdog of the US, and there is no likelihood that this anomalous situation will change anytime soon.