American lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange announced on Monday that they would file a complaint against the CIA and its former director, Mike Pompeo, who they accuse of recording their conversations and copying the contents of their phones and computers.
The lawyers and two journalists who joined the complaint are all Americans and claim the intelligence agency violated their constitutional right to privacy, in this case involving Australian Julian Assange.
Assange’s right to a fair trial ‘tainted’
They allege that the CIA worked with a security firm hired by the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where Julian Assange was then taking refuge, to spy on the WikiLeaks founder, his lawyers, journalists and others he met.
Julian Assange faces extradition from Britain to the United States, where he is accused of publishing diplomatic cables related to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2010.
According to attorney Robert Boyle, representing the plaintiffs, these alleged acts of espionage mean Assange’s right to a fair trial has been “tainted, if not nullified,” because “the government now knows the substance of these exchanges,” he told reporters. “Sanctions should be in place, up to and including dismissing these charges or withdrawing the extradition request, in response to these clearly unconstitutional activities,” he said.
The complaint was filed by attorneys Margaret Ratner Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek, and journalists Charles Glass and John Goetz. It targets the CIA, its former director and ex-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the security firm Undercover Global, and its President David Morales Guillen.
The complaint alleges that Undercover Global, a Spain-based company contracted with the Ecuadorian embassy, collected information on the applicants’ electronic devices, specifically exchanges with Mr Assange, and placed microphones on behalf of the CIA in the building, the recordings of which as well as the remote monitoring images were also sent to the American authorities.
Pompeo “was aware of and approved of the intelligence gathering,” according to this court document, which says Undercover Global was recruited by the CIA in 2017. Julian Assange has appealed the UK’s decision to grant the extradition request to the United States. The charges against him could carry a prison sentence of up to 175 years.