Technical aspects of the surveillance in and around the Ecuadorian embassy in London - Details about the man hunt for Julian Assange and WikiLeaks
Judge De la Mata questioned Assange after sending a European Investigation Order (EIO) on September 25 requesting assistance from British authorities. As part of the request, the judge said that David Morales, owner of UC Global SL, “invaded the privacy of Assange and his lawyers by placing microphones inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London without consent from the affected parties.” The request also stated that the information thus collected was distributed to other people and institutions, including “authorities from Ecuador and agents from the United States.”
According to the evidence provided by the witnesses – videos, audio tapes and dozens of emails the spying operation was intensive. Under Morales’s express orders, the security team photographed the passports of all of Assange’s visitors, took apart their cellphones, downloaded content from their iPads, took notes and put together reports on each meeting.
The three witness statements all spoke of the phrases Morales used with his most-trusted workers in reference to the alleged collaboration with the US secret service: “We are playing in the first division,” “I have gone to the dark side,” “Those in control are the American friends,” “The American client,” “The American friends are asking me to confirm,” “The North American will get us a lot of contracts around the world,” and “US intelligence.” The obsession over any Russian visit or sign of a link between Assange and Russia was also reflected in the photographs that were taken of the passport visas of some visitors.
A few days before Christmas, Julian Assange testified to a Spanish court that a Spanish security company, UC Global S.L., acting in coordination with the CIA, illegally recorded all his actions and conversations, including with his lawyers, and streamed them back in real time to the CIA. He will, at the end of February, make a similar complaint to a British extradition court about the CIA’s alleged misbehavior.
Will such misbehavior, if proven, set Assange free?
The Daniel Ellsberg case may be instructive. You may recall that after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the “Pentagon Papers” case, Ellsberg was indicted under the Espionage Act for leaking Pentagon documents to The New York Times and The Washington Post.
After the trial commenced in San Francisco, it was brought to the judge’s attention that the “White House plumbers” broke into the office of Ellsberg’s psychiatrist. Based on that information and other complaints of government misbehavior, including the FBI’s interception of Ellsberg’s telephone conversations with a government official, Judge William Matthew Byrne decided that the case should be dismissed with prejudice because the government acted outrageously.
For similar reasons, the case against Assange should be dismissed, if it reaches the U.S. courts.
The usual remedy for warrantless surveillance is to exclude any illegally obtained information from the trial, but that remedy is inapplicable here. The government’s advantage in surveilling Assange is not the acquisition of tangible evidence but, rather, intangible insights into Assange’s legal strategy. There is no way, therefore, to give Assange a fair trial, since his opponents will know every move he will make.
When Assange begins his extradition hearing, this will be part of his argument — that the CIA’s misbehavior violates his human rights by depriving him of his right to a fair trial.