Wikileaks founder Julian Assange looks out on the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London on May 19, 2017 afp_tickers This content was published on August 15, 2022 – 18:29 August 15, 2022 – 18:29 (AFP)
US lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sued the CIA and its former director Mike Pompeo on Monday, accusing them of recording their conversations and copying the content of their phones and computers.
The lawyers and two journalists who have joined the lawsuit, all Americans, allege that the CIA violated the constitutional right to protect confidential conversations, in this case with Australian Julian Assange.
They say the CIA worked with a security firm hired by the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Assange was then living, to spy on the Wikileaks founder, his lawyers, journalists and others he met.
Assange was arrested by British police in 2019 after spending seven years taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Since then he has been imprisoned in Belmarsh near the British capital.
On June 17, the British government announced that it had signed the decree for his extradition to the United States, a decision that Assange appealed.
The United States accuses him of releasing US military and diplomatic documents related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2010, for which he could be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison.
Richard Roth, the New York attorney representing the plaintiffs, says the alleged espionage by Assange’s attorneys means that “the Wikileaks founder’s right to a fair trial has been violated, if not destroyed.”
“Recording meetings with friends, with lawyers, and digitally copying information from their lawyers and friends misleads law enforcement because the government now knows the content of those communications,” Roth told reporters.
“Sanctions, up to and including dismissing these charges or withdrawing an extradition request, must be imposed in response to these manifestly unconstitutional activities,” he added.
The lawsuit was filed by attorneys Margaret Ratner Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek, and journalists Charles Glass and John Goetz.
They all visited Assange while he was living at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, which granted him political asylum before it was withdrawn years later.
The lawsuit cites the CIA, former agency director and former US Secretary of State Pompeo, and security firm Undercover Global and its CEO David Morales Guillén.
He alleges that Undercover Global, which had a security contract with the embassy, appropriated the information from its electronic devices and made it available to the CIA.
He also placed microphones around the embassy and sent recordings and surveillance camera images to the CIA.
This violates the privacy of US citizens, says Roth.