A new report Michael Isikoff of Yahoo says the U.S. has not been of much help to Spain as it tries to investigate whether a local security firm spied on Julian Assange on a CIA order.
Lawyers for the notorious hacktivist have accused Spanish security firm Undercover Global (UC Global) of colluding with the CIA, alleging that a spy agency used a security firm to monitor Assange while he was hidden in the Ecuadorian embassy in London (Assange has lived at the embassy since 2012 .by 2019 after losing the extradition battle with Sweden in connection with a case of sexual misconduct).
The Ecuadorian government hired UC Global to secure its embassy in London, but the company’s employees were allegedly involved in a series of suspicious and probably illegal practices to monitor Assange, including installing a series of secret cameras and microphones to monitor his interaction with embassy visitors.
High Court of Spain was has been investigating UC Global since several whistleblowers from the firm came forward in 2019 to make allegations about the company’s espionage efforts for Assange. The company’s CEO, David Morales, was arrested in 2019, but was later released. It is unclear whether he will face official charges in connection with this case, because Spanish officials are still investigating, and he claims that the espionage was carried out on the order of the Ecuadorian intelligence service SENAIN.
While Spain is trying to get to the bottom of all this, the United States is not making it easier to put the parts together. Spanish authorities have reportedly contacted the U.S. Department of Justice a total of three times over a 17-month period in hopes of clarifying whether the U.S. has ever had a relationship with UC Global. According to a Yahoo report, the DOJ blew them up.
Instead of responding to the requests, the DOJ “asked the Spanish authorities for more information on the basics of the investigation,” Yahoo reports. This answer – or lack thereof – seemed to be circumvented the Mutual Legal Assistance Agreement (MLAT) between the United States and Spain. MLATs should facilitate the exchange of information between governments for law enforcement purposes.
Assange has been on the U.S. government’s shit list since 2010 when it was Wikileaks published a collection secret military documents and diplomatic dispatches obtained by military whistleblower Chelsea Manning, a former military intelligence analyst. The documents showed, among other things, proof of potential “War crimes” in Iraq and Afghanistan. The publication of the documents triggered various diplomatic crises and public relations crises of Western governments.
2019. 17-count indictment against Assange revealed the Justice Department in connection with Manning’s data leak. The indictment controversially charged Assange with the Espionage Act, a federal law relating to the dissemination of confidential information about national security. Newspapers and civil liberties activists have sharply criticized the move as a creation a potentially dangerous precedent regarding freedom of the press and the First Amendment.
An investigation by Yahoo last summer he claimed that Assange was also the target of a conspiracy to assassinate by elements of the Trump administration and the CIA. The report states that in 2017, a few years after Assange entered the Ecuadorian embassy, the CIA began planning how to kidnap or kill him. Such plans were apparently partly inspired by Wikileaks publication “Vault 7,” a pile of data on CIA hacking tools and procedures. Earlier reporting he suggested that UC Global was aware of some of the plans.
We have contacted the Department of Justice for comment on this story and we will update when we receive a response.
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