A London court heard how the United States considered using Spanish private detectives to poison WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during his seven years of asylum inside the United Kingdom’s Ecuadorian Embassy.
Human rights lawyer Edward Fitzgerald, arguing against the extradition of Assange to the U.S., said Monday that the U.S. intelligence community plotted to kill the WikiLeaks founder after he released 250,000 top-secret U.S. Department of State cables, according to the Daily Mail. The plot to murder Assange was exposed by a mysterious Iberian whistleblower who told investigators that U.S. authorities were in contact with a Spanish private security firm that helped target audio and video devices inside London’s Ecuadorian Embassy.
“There were conversations about whether there should be more extreme measures contemplated, such as kidnapping or poisoning Julian Assange in the embassy,” said Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald argued David Morales, a former Spanish military officer who bought a yacht from one of President Trump’s financial backers, Sheldon Adelson, agreed to “provide information gathered about Mr. Assange to the dark side — in other words, U.S. intelligence agencies.”
Assange faces up to 175 years in prison stemming from 18 charges of espionage and computer hacking related to the trove of U.S. intelligence documents he released online in 2010. U.S. government lawyer John Lewis said Assange worked in coordination with former Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack the Department of Defense before sharing secrets that put American lives in danger.
Fitzgerald argued that Assange’s extradition to the U.S. is “politically motivated” because Trump hopes to ward off any potential whistleblowers or leaks during his presidency. He further claimed that Assange would not receive a fair trial in the U.S. “because of the political opinions he holds.”
“Prosecution is not motivated by genuine concern for criminal justice but by politics,” Fitzgerald said. “This extradition should be barred because the prosecution is being pursued for political motives and not in good faith.”
Last week, Fitzgerald said Trump had attempted to broker a presidential pardon for Assange by way of a secret meeting with former California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher under the condition that Assange refute claims that Russia was behind the Democratic National Committee hack that dominated the 2016 presidential election.
The White House pushed back against the accusations from Assange’s lawyers, saying the hypothetical pardon was a “complete fabrication and a total lie.”
Though Assange’s team has argued that punishing him could criminalize investigative journalism, prosecutors have pushed back and pointed to criminal activity that the WikiLeaks founder committed while working to unearth American intelligence documents.
“The defense wish to paint Mr. Assange as a defender of liberty, but that is not for this court to decide,” said Lewis.
Lewis noted that documents found in al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s Pakistani hideaway after U.S. Navy SEALs killed the terrorist leader could only have come from the WikiLeaks document dumps. Lewis said these documents are evidence that Assange’s activities were “useful to the enemies of the United States of America.”
Assange’s father, John Shipton, said it was “simply untrue” that the Department of Defense leaks were used to hurt Americans, quoting former Secretary of State Robert Gates, who told Congress that “no damage was done.”
Credit: Washington Examiner, www.washingtonexaminer.com