Contributed by Joe Montero
Four journalists and lawyers who have visited Julian Assange in London have filed a lawsuit against the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its former director Mike Pompeo, claiming they engaged in violations of constitutional rights.
They have also filed a suit against Spanish security firm Undercover Global and its former chief executive David R Morales Guillen. Undercover Global was contracted to engage in the spying. Global and Morales are also facing criminal charges in Spain over the treatment of Assange.
Image by WHSV
The partnership between the intelligence agency and private firm violates the Fourth Amendment of the United States constitution against illegal searches and seizures when they visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.
Assange is now being held in the notorious Belmarsh prison, facing the prospect of extradition to the United States to face 17 charges of treason carrying up to 175 years imprisonment, and a further charge involving spying by helping Chelsea Manning get secret codes to access the Pentagon’s computer system. This carries a potential death sentence.
Critics have pointed out that the charges are would not hold out in a fair trial. Julian Assange is not a citizen on the United States and should therefore not be charged with treason to a country he has no association with. Nor is it likely he helped get Manning secret codes when Manning was an intelligence analyst and already had access to the codes.
Violation of the rights of visiting journalists and lawyers was an extension of the ongoing disregard for normal legal niceties in the effort to get Assange at all costs.
The suit states that the plaintiffs were required to leave their devices with a security guard at the reception desk as a condition for visiting Assange, and that UC Global, which the embassy contracted to provide security for the facility and Assange, copied the data and later gave it to the CIA.
Photo by Gage Skidmore: Former CIA Director Mike Pompeo
“While the named Plaintiffs initiate this action, the practices complained of violate the rights of well over 100 American citizens who visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England,” the suit states, adding that the stolen data included confidential information from lawyers, journalists, and doctors.
The suit alleges that Pompeo personally approved the program, which also included hidden microphones inside the embassy. Pompeo later went on to serve as secretary of State in the Trump administration and is rumoured to be considering a run for president in 2024.
“To make matters worse, many of the conversations were absolutely privileged and confidential in nature, in that the plaintiffs are journalists and attorneys who went there to visit their clients,”
Richard Roth, who is a lawyer for the plaintiffs said,
“The conduct by the government was outrageous and inappropriate, which violated the most profound privacy rights of the plaintiffs and others who visited Assange in the embassy.
“To make matters worse, many of the conversations were absolutely privileged and confidential in nature, in that the plaintiffs are journalists and attorneys who went there to visit their clients.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s Prime Minister, despite the strength of feeling within his own party, parliamentarians, and the public that he should stand by Julian Assange, has failed to do so. This indicates the pressure Washington can impose on Canberra. After all Julian Assange in an Australian citizen who has a right to expect protection from his government.