Contributed by Joe Montero
The Julian Assange extradition case has heard about how a Spanish security firm was engaged by the American Intelligence Agency (CIA), to spy on him at the Ecuador embassy, and then, to hatch plans to kidnap and poison him.
Lawyers for the United States claim that all this is irrelevant to the case. They would say this, wouldn’t they? How could this be irrelevant, when it helps to show this is a political case, designed to persecute an award winning jounalist?
Two whistleblower from a Spanish security company called Undercover Global, testified in the court. Because of fear for their safety, they remained anonymous.
The company is owned by Davide Morales. The written testimony says he had instructed the installation of cameras and sophisticated audio bugging devices at the embassy in 2017.
Photo from El Plural: David Morales
The statement adds, that this was ordered by what Morales called, “our American friends,” and it says, Morales told his people they paid well for it.
One of the whistleblowers told the court, Morales had gone to Las Vegas around July 2016, to showcase the security firm, and subsequently, obtained a “flashy contract” with the Las Vegas Sands, which happens to be owned by Sheldon Adelson, a wealthy associate of Donald Trump
The other whistleblower added: He had been employed as an IT expert from 2015, and that Morales had said that “the Americans were desperate,” in December 2017.
Morales said, it was alleged, passed on a suggestion that “more extreme measures should be employed against the ‘guest’ to put an end to the situation of Assange’s permanence in the embassy.” This referred to Julian Assange’s kidnapping. There was also talk about a plan to poison him.
Photo by Andy Rain/EPA
The court heard that Julian Assange would likely be sent to the federal Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.
According to Maureen Baird, a former warden at the Metropolitan Correctional Centre in New York, this would mean the worst prison conditions in the United States, which lead to to an array of mental health issues, including anxiety and paranoia.
“From my experience, of close to three decades of working in federal prisons, I would agree that long term isolation can have serious negative effects on an inmate’s mental health,” she said.
Bound up with the intended treason and hacking charges against Assange, is the release of the military video called Collateral Damage. This is a graphic illustration of the the type of behaviour revealed in the WikiLeaks war crimes exposures.
Video from WikilLeaks
Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent and a veteran war correspondent, said he had reported on the July 2007 incident but could not confirm, that the victims were actually unarmed civilians.
He needed the evidence. The military claimed they had come under fire. This contradicted what the what police from a nearby station said. The Pentagon refused to give up the film that had been recorded by the Apache helicopter gunner.
Cockburn said the release of the video and other information, passed from US whistleblower Chelsea Manning to Assange and Wikileaks, showed “the way the U.S. was conducting its war on terror”.
“The information that was disclosed by Wikileaks was frequently no secret to Iraqis or Afghans or foreign journalists, who all know very well about who had been killed and by whom. But this could never be confirmed in the face of official US silence or denial,” said Patrick Cockburn.
He said he suspects the prosecution of Assange, who is fighting extradition to the US where he faces 18 charges including espionage, is a reaction by the American government to a “perceived assault on their monopoly control of sensitive information”.
“Making such information public, as Assange and Wikileaks had done, weaponised freedom of expression,” he said.
In his statement to the court, Cockburn added, journalists rely on leaks and disclosures to confirm stories that government’s refuse to engage with.
As the testimony of witnesses comes out, the case is revealed as a thinly veiled political assault by Washington, designed to keep form the public, what is inconvenient from Washington’s point of view. It is also designed to and to send the message, those who tell will be punished severely.
What is really on trial, is the right of the public to know about the misbehavior and crimes of those in power.