A Spanish public prosecutor and Julian Assange’s lawyers have presented evidence that the publisher, hunted by the US government, was spied on during his stay at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The firm in question is UC Global S. L., which was in charge of security for the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange lived from 2012 until 2019.
According to the materials presented in Spain’s National Court amid a case against the Spanish security firm and seen by The New York Times and the Spanish newspaper El País, the firm intercepted conversations of the WikiLeaks co-founder, his celebrity visitors, lawyers, and doctors.
The plaintiffs are insisting that the firm eavesdropped on Assange for the CIA. However, the agency’s spokesperson has declined to comment on these allegations. While the publisher, who is currently in a London prison, is set to testify remotely in the case on 20 December, his legal team is also planning to use this evidence in an extradition case by the British government and block his deportation to the US. According to them, the newly-revealed allegations prove that he would not receive a fair trial in the US, where faces a hefty prison sentence over leaking classified documents on the American military.
Security With Benefits?
The suspicions arose after images from the embassy had been put up for sale in Spain this spring. It is alleged that the Spanish firm passed on audio and video recordings of Assange’s meetings until 2018.
The CIA reportedly paid special attention to visitors from Russia and the US. According to El País, there are recordings featuring actress Pamela Anderson, Pulitzer Prize winner Lowell Bergman as well as German hacker Andy Müller-Maguhn and two German broadcasters NDR and WDR. NRD filed criminal charges, assuming their staffers’ privacy rights and editorial secrets were violated.
According to them, hidden microphones were installed and electronic devices were disassembled. Besides this, recording equipment was reportedly placed in the restrooms where Assange sometimes talked to his guests to guard his privacy.
The security firm refutes the allegations, stressing that it acted only on behalf of the Ecuadorian government. Its founder David Morales, indicted in October, denies any wrongdoing as well. Nevertheless, he has been charged with privacy violation, bribery, and money laundering and arrested. Following house searches in Spain, the authorities also confiscated disks, weapons, and cash.
Assange in British Prison
Julian Assange is currently serving a jail term in the UK for skipping bail in 2012, when he fled to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London fearing extradition to Sweden and then to the United States.
On 25 November, over 60 doctors from Europe, the United States, Australia, and Sri Lanka wrote a letter to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel saying that Assange’s health was deteriorating rapidly and he “could die in prison”.
They insisted his condition required independent assessment after his seven year ordeal at the embassy and half a year behind bars.
In prison, he is awaiting an extradition hearing, which is set for February next year. In October, a UK judge rejected Assange’s pleas to delay it for three months to allow more time to investigate his case.
While Swedish prosecutors who wanted Assange on rape allegations subsequently dropped their case last week, he is sought on multiple counts of espionage carrying a total of 175 years in prison in the US. The hunt for him has gone on since his WikiLeaks project disclosed classified documents relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that shed light on how the US military covered up the killing of civilians.