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Report claims Assange used Ecuador’s London embassy as command center for Wikileaks activity, meeting frequently with Russian agents

By By Marshall Cohen, Kay Guerrero and Arturo Torres

Julian Assange

New documents obtained exclusively by CNN reveal that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange received in-person deliveries, potentially of hacked materials related to the 2016 US election, during a series of suspicious meetings at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The documents build on the possibility, raised by special counsel Robert Mueller in his report on Russian meddling, that couriers brought hacked files to Assange at the embassy.

The surveillance reports also describe how Assange turned the embassy into a command center and orchestrated a series of damaging disclosures that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.

Despite being confined to the embassy while seeking safe passage to Ecuador, Assange met with Russians and world-class hackers at critical moments, frequently for hours at a time. He also acquired powerful new computing and network hardware to facilitate data transfers just weeks before WikiLeaks received hacked materials from Russian operatives.

These stunning details come from hundreds of surveillance reports compiled for the Ecuadorian government by UC Global, a private Spanish security company, and obtained by CNN. They chronicle Assange’s movements and provide an unprecedented window into his life at the embassy. They also add a new dimension to the Mueller report, which cataloged how WikiLeaks helped the Russians undermine the US election.

An Ecuadorian intelligence official told CNN that the surveillance reports are authentic.

The security logs noted that Assange personally managed some of the releases “directly from the embassy” where he lived for nearly seven years. After the election, the private security company prepared an assessment of Assange’s allegiances. That report, which included open-source information, concluded there was “no doubt that there is evidence” that Assange had ties to Russian intelligence agencies.

UC Global did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Assange, a native of Australia, has always denied working for the Kremlin and has insisted that the source of the leaks “is not the Russian government and it is not a state party.” He also said he would have published damaging information about then-candidate Donald Trump if he had received it.

Ex-foreign minister Ricardo Pitino

The US announced criminal charges against Assange earlier this year for his role in the 2010 leaks of secret diplomatic cables and Pentagon war logs, which WikiLeaks got from then-US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning. British police yanked Assange from the embassy in April. He is now serving a one-year prison term in London for skipping bail in the UK, while aggressively fighting extradition to the US.

WikiLeaks did not respond to requests for comment. Assange’s lawyers declined to comment. Assange maintains his innocence and WikiLeaks says the charges are “the worst attack on press freedom in our lifetime.”

A guest with privileges

Assange sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in June 2012 to apply for political asylum and avoid extradition to Sweden, where he faced sexual assault allegations, which he denies.

The decision to offer Assange asylum was made by then-Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, who claimed he was protecting Assange from “political persecution.” The asylum also served two larger purposes: It heightened Ecuador’s status on the world stage and brandished Correa’s credentials as a leading US antagonist in Latin America.

Initially the diplomats hoped to take Assange swiftly to Ecuador. But that plan stalled amid British refusals to allow Assange safe passage outside the embassy. So he settled in for a protracted stay.

Though confined to a few rooms inside the embassy, Assange was able to wield enormous authority over his situation. From the outset he demanded (and was granted) high-speed internet connectivity, phone service and regular access to professional visitors and personal guests. This arrangement enabled him to keep WikiLeaks active, the documents said.

Assange also issued a special list of people who were able to enter the embassy without showing identification or being searched by security. He was even granted the power to delete names from the visitor logs. To avoid surveillance cameras, Assange occasionally met guests inside the women’s bathroom, according to the security reports.

This all leaves open the possibility that additional sensitive meetings took place but are still secret.

Quickly, the once-mundane diplomatic mission in the heart of London became a hotbed of tension and suspicion. Throughout Assange’s stay at the embassy, Ecuador employed three security companies to conduct constant surveillance. Assange installed his own recording devices and used noise machines to stymie the snooping, according to the documents obtained by CNN.

The task of controlling Assange proved difficult. Fistfights broke out between Assange and the guards. He smeared feces on the walls out of anger.

Assange also maintained direct contact with senior officials in Ecuador, including former Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño, and regularly used those connections to threaten embassy staff, according to the surveillance documents and two Ecuadorian government sources who spoke to CNN. He claimed he could get people fired, even the sitting ambassador.

Assange’s authority appeared at times to rival that of the ambassador. In December 2013, Ambassador Juan Falconí wrote a letter to Assange and said that “you cannot give instructions contrary to mine.”

CNN reached out to the four ambassadors who overlapped with Assange’s time at the embassy. Only Falconí would comment, saying the Ecuadorian government had never pressured him to give Assange special treatment and that he had established rules for Assange to follow.

Several current and former Ecuadorian government officials, including Correa and Patiño, did not respond to multiple requests for comment. While Correa was in office, he responded to criticism over harboring Assange by doubling down on the asylum offer and holding Assange up as a symbol of Ecuador’s commitment to freedom of the press.

Referring to Assange, Correa pointed out that “the icon of freedom of expression chooses to take refuge in the embassy of Ecuador,” in a 2012 interview with RT en Español, a Spanish-language network controlled by the Kremlin. The Russian government operates television networks around the world to spread propaganda, and it reaches American audiences on its flagship English-language station, RT.

Despite the years of strife, Assange was allowed to stay and prepared to wield his power when the moment was right. That moment came in summer 2016, a pivotal time in the US presidential campaign.

Russia comes knocking

By June, Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had emerged as the de facto nominees of their parties and were gearing up for what would be a bruising general election. The campaign took a historic turn on June 14, when the Democratic National Committee announced that it had been hacked and blamed Russia — which Trump dismissed as a farce.

Assange was busy back at the embassy. That month, members of the security team worked overtime to handle at least 75 visits to Assange, nearly double the monthly average of visits logged by the security company that year. He met Russian citizens and a hacker later flagged in the Mueller report as a potential courier for emails stolen from the Democrats.
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Credit: CNN, https://edition.cnn.com

39 thoughts on “Report claims Assange used Ecuador’s London embassy as command center for Wikileaks activity, meeting frequently with Russian agents

  1. Curious. UC Global didn’t start providing security at the embassy until 2017 after Moreno was elected. They’re currently embroiled in a criminal trial in Spain after they spied on Assange 24 hours a day, including in the bathroom, and tried to extort Wikileaks. They were caught by Spanish police in a sting threatening to release the videos to the press if they weren’t paid three million dollars. Their go-between stated that it was all done at the behest of embassy officials, which of course they deny. But that is neither here nor there. My point is how does UC Global have all this surveillance information from before the 2016 presidential election if they weren’t contracted until a year later?

    And for the record, despite accusations of destroying furniture, fighting with staff and smearing feces on the walls, the only “evidence” of bad behavior released so far has been a 10-second clip of him riding a skateboard down the hallway. The actions described here are in direct conflict with the deputy ambassador who was there for 5 years right up until Moreno came to office who said they never had any problems with Assange and that he got along well with the embassy staff. Given that we already know they have 24-hour surveillance on him, and the fact that Moreno wants so bad to justify handing him over, you’d think video evidence of at least some of these misdeeds would have “leaked” by now.

    But of course we all realize this is just the corporate media doing its job in mahufacturing consent for Assange’s ultimate extradition to the US where he will be locked in a cage for reporting the truth.

      1. Yeah, I caught that after reading a follow-up story later on. My bad.

        But still, waiting for the video of the feces smeared on the wall.

    1. What you are saying is not true. It is your biased opinion based on you being devoted to Assange (and Correa) and being anti Moreno. But is it the truth NOOOO just your one sided opinion. It is difficult to listen to statements that have no credibility.

      Assanges behavour was unacceptable and it is well known that Assange was a disrespectful guest that felt he was entitled therefore was acting like a spoiled child. Assange is sure denying a lot of accusations. Thou doth protest too much meaning Asange is being overly insistent to the point where the opposite is more likely true. There is plenty of evidence and no doubt that he met with Russians and hackers.

      1. It’s hard to decide which cable news network most deserves an award for being the least credible source for accurate news reporting. CNN seems to be in a close race with Fox and MSNBC– as well as all the over-the-air major networks — to see which of them can achieve the goal of 100% state propaganda first. This latest piece by the presstitutes at CNN should firmly cement the prize for them.

        If you want facts, not phony baloney from irresponsible hacks simply parroting government propaganda, you’ll have to dig for it. Here’s a good place to start: https://caitlinjohnstone.com/. Do a search for articles she has written about Assange and check her extensive use of fact-based hyperlinks, then maybe the blinders will start to fall away from your eyes.

        Just as a sample, here’s an excerpt from her article today totally debunking CNN’s hamfisted smear piece appearing in CHL:

        This would be the same CNN who told its viewers that it’s against the law to read WikiLeaks, with Democratic Party prince Chris Cuomo lying “Remember, it’s illegal to possess these stolen documents; it’s different for the media, so everything you learn about this you’re learning from us.” The same CNN which falsely reported that Assange is a pedophile not once, but twice. The same CNN which has been caught blatantly lying in its Russiagate coverage, which has had to fire journalists for misreporting Russiagate in a media environment where that almost never happens with Russia stories, which has deleted evidence of its journalistic malpractice regarding Russiagate from the internet without retraction or apology.

        So this latest attempt to tarnish Julian Assange’s reputation from CNN is not surprising. Nor is it surprising that the article contains exactly zero of the “exclusive documents” which it says validate its claims and insinuations. Nor is it surprising that CNN is using invisible evidence which almost certainly came into its hands through a government intelligence agency to give weight to its smear. But the sheer volume of disinformation and deceit they were able to pack into one single article this time around was just jaw-dropping. Even for CNN.

        Don’t swallow everything the MSM feeds you like a little bird in the nest. You’re likely to discover that it’s just regurgitated glop coming straight from the lie factories in Foggy Bottom.

    2. Jason, I find myself in the unusual position of agreeing with you on at least part of what you wrote. You stated “Assange’s ultimate extradition to the US where he will be locked in a cage for reporting the truth”. I find it admirable that you would admit Assange exposed the truth when he released Hillary Clinton’s emails of her corrupt behavior. She was the one who encouraged Russian interference in the U.S. election under President Obama’s watch. She funded the fake dossier from a foreign source. She stored classified documents on her personal (illegal) server which she deleted & “scrubbed”. Yet, she faced no consequence because of her connections. Maybe one day Hillary, Assange, & Jeffery Epstein can all share the same fate where they can trade experiences.

      1. I never said anything about Hillary’s emails. If you were an honest observer, you would have noticed that Assange’s troubles started years before anything to do with Hillary and he was in fact put on Washington’s hit list after exposing war crimes in Iraq. But like all fanatics, you found a way to make it about your deity instead.

        Oh, and for the record, several of Trump’s aides have been found to be using private email servers to exchange even classified information. The practice actually dates back to W’s administration. It was Karl Rove’s idea. The thinking was if they didn’t use government servers for their communications, those communications wouldn’t be subject to FOIA requests. I’m sure you were as upset about it when Bush did it and you must be livid about it now that Trump’s staff has been doing it.

        1. Jason, I took you at your word when you stated “Assange’s ultimate extradition to the US where he will be locked in a cage for reporting the truth”. If you were lying in the earlier statement, I apologize for believing you.

  2. Which spies/agents was Assange talking to? Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale? Maybe they were looking for moose and squirrel…

  3. This article is another example of the sad state of American media. It is crafted with an agenda and takes facts out of context. CHL continues in the US news tradition, picking this thing becuase it is what THEY want to believe or what they think will please this audience.
    The truth is considerably less dramatic but has the quality of accuracy. To whit: Assange was confined to a tiny room with a dubious internet connection in a tiny embassy . (duh) It is from there he ran his blog just like anyone with a blog does. To call the British Ecuadorian embassy his “wikileaks command center” is as absurd as calling this forum the “Bradley command center”!

    I am going to stop here. But the rest is so absurdly presented and so massaged as to rank right up there in the ranks of Goebbels-trained nuttiness.

    1. It’s curious that the leftists are in bed with the reactionary right on this issue. As Trump and the lefties say, there was no Russian collusion, and Assange was operating on intentions that were as pure as the driven snow. And then there’s the issue of the leftwing European and US media. Go figure.

      1. Trump and the warmongering sycophants he has chosen to surround him say that “Assange was operating on intentions that were as pure as the driven snow?”

        Seriously? In what universe?

        If that were the case, why didn’t Trump issue an immediate pardon for Assange and fire Pompeo, Bolton and all the other lying dirtbags surrounding him? Go figure indeed.

        1. Por qué, indeed! When you have the righties and lefties in bed together there’s no explaining what transpires. All we know for sure is that it’s kinky.

          1. I wouldn’t call it kinky. Instead I would describe it as mass delusion propounded by lazy presstitutes willing to irresponsibly parrot government lies to a clueless, trusting public regardless of political stripe.

            Despicable and horribly sad would be far more appropriate descriptors than “kinky.”

            Maybe “Of course I’ll respect you in the morning” would be more fitting for your analogy.

              1. Oh joy. Undoubtedly the purpose of his trip is to magnanimously bring more wealth, freedom, democracy and liberty to Ecuador just like the U.S. has historically done for so many other countries all over the world, especially in Latin America.

  4. I’m glad to see the truth finally emerging. As usual, the ideologues are not interested in facts, just their own worn out party line.

  5. Moreno has been a disaster as president but at least he figured out the racket that Assange was running at the embassy. I liked most of what Correa did but, in this case, he functioned as co-conspirator in advancing the Wikileaks agenda.

    1. I have to disagree with you Bob. It was Ricardo Patino who was the co-conspirator, not Correa. On at least three occasions that I’m aware of Correa warned Assange not to interfere in the affairs of other countries. At least one of the warnings was to stop meddling in the US election (a warning that obviously was ignored). This was reported in the Ecuadorian media.

  6. In the El Comericio’s write-up of this article they shared a quote from Mueller Report I hadn’t previously read or heard about, probably because I don’t stream live news from the U.S.

    “WikiLeaks, and particularly its founder Julian Assange, privately expressed opposition to candidate Clinton well before the first release of stolen documents. In November 2015, Assange wrote to other members and associates of WikiLeaks that “[w]e believe it would be much better for GOP to win… Dems+Media+liberals woudl [sic] then form a block to reign in their worst qualities… With Hillary in charge, GOP will be pushing for her worst qualities., dems+media+neoliberals will be mute… She’s a bright, well connected, sadistic sociopath.” ”

    https://qz.com/1599481/all-488-pages-of-the-mueller-report-visualized/

    1. Read the full report, not just the Quartz summary, and you’ll get a more clear picture of why Assange was writing this. On the next page it references Clinton’s warmongering plots while Secretary of State and why Wikileaks believed that she would be a huge risk for global war.

      As always, scratch below the surface if you’re looking for the truth.

      And if you think you’re going to find the truth in the Mueller Report I’ve got a bridge to sell you.

      1. The only thing Assange cares about is screwing over the U.S. and pleasing his master Putin. Exactly why Assange made such a good bedfellow for Rafael Correa. Now go ……..

        1. Read the full report. Then try reading well documented counterpoints like Caitlin Johnstone. Maybe then we can have an intelligent, informed discussion.

  7. A new low, even by CNN’s appalling propaganda standards. The venerable Caitlin Johnstone lays out their ever-more transparent treachery and smear-tactics in this great piece. It is simply unconscionable what the Anglo-American empire has done, and is doing … to Julian Assange. And Moreno … sold him like chattel. You couldn’t make this stuff up. 🙁

    https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/07/16/new-cnn-assange-smear-piece-is-amazingly-dishonest-even-for-cnn/

    1. Couldn’t possibly agree more strongly with you. It’s nice to know there are others out there who don’t readily swallow the propagandistic garbage constantly spewed by western media.

    2. This is a joke, right? Granted, the CNN story is sloppy –and I’m no fan of CNN, Fox, MSNBC or any of the rest — but to counter it with information from RT is ludicrous. Notice that Caitlin doesn’t mention that RT is the acronym for Russia Today, a Kremlin-bankrolled propaganda machine. Of course, they’re going to deny illegal Russian involvement in anything. I’m especially amused by Ms. Johnstone’s “feces-on-the-wall” obsession. Surely she’s aware that two former embassy employees gave interviews with British newspapers about their experiences with Assange, including a vivid scatological description of the clean-up duty.

      1. I agree. RT is right up there with the North Korean News Service and Telesur on the veracity scale.

      2. Your problem, Garrett, as is often the case with naifs who want to argue about something they know nothing about, is that you are confusing the media, with the message.

        If you are able to criticise the facts (the message), then do so. If not, then you have no argument. You are falling victim to a logical fallacy (probably deliberately, in order to validate your preferred confirmation bias).

        I have followed the Assange thing extremely closely for over a decade now, and RT is one of the ONLY outlets reporting the truth about one of the bravest journalists in human history.

        People like you genuinely make me despair. Assange is fighting YOUR FIGHT for you, and you don’t even know it. Hopeless.

      3. And the “information” is from a famous AUSTRALIAN journalist, who is writing some of the best and most insightful geopolitical commentary in the world right now. RT is simply one media outlet reprinting it. Shake. My. Head.

  8. OK, take out the words “potentially”, “suspicious”, and “possibility” and what do you have? Assange accepted deliveries and had Russian visitors (many other nationalities as well), including hackers. Well, duh! The same can be said of hundreds if not thousands of journalists & publishers.

    Consider the source: “Marshall A. Cohen is a former International Councillor for The Center for Strategic and International Studies, a member of the Executive Committee of The British-North American Committee and a former member of the Trilateral Commission.

    See https://fair.org/home/nyt-reveals-think-tank-its-cited-for-years-to-be-corrupt-arms-booster/
    “NYT Reveals Think Tank It’s Cited for Years to Be Corrupt Arms Booster”
    Talk about smearing feces – these guys are the real pros.

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