Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 July 2019

Julian Assange being spied on in the Ecuadorean embassy, says WikiLeaks

The group said secret recordings of Mr Assange had been made since he entered the embassy in 2012

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaking to reporters on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in May 2017. EPA
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange speaking to reporters on the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy in May 2017. EPA

WikiLeaks claimed on Wednesday that its founder Julian Assange was being spied on from within the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

"Wikileaks has uncovered an extensive spying operation against Julian Assange within the Ecuadorean embassy," the group’s editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson said at a press conference.

Mr Assange could be evicted from the embassy - which he has not left for seven years - at any time, he added.

Mr Hrafnsson said WikiLeaks became aware of a large collection of audio, video and photographs recorded of Mr Assange since 2012 when a group in Spain threatened to publish the material unless they were given 3 million euros.

WikiLeaks said they had informed the Spanish police of the extortion plot.

"Extortion is a very serious matter but of much greater concern to me is this material gathering and spying on Julian Assange by the [Ecuador] government and the officials who work on his behalf in the embassy against an individual who was granted asylum and full protection," Mr Hrafnsson added.

The group said it believed the material had been handed over to the Trump administration.

However, WikiLeaks provided no evidence to back up any of its claims made at the press conference.

Mr Assange’s lawyer, Jennifer Robinson, said she had applied to the UN special rapporteur on privacy to investigate the matter.

“We remain concerned about the cooperation that Ecuador has provided the United States,” she said.

WikiLeaks said last week it had been told by two senior Ecuadorian officials that Mr Assange would be expelled from the embassy imminently.

The 47-year-old sought refuge inside the embassy in 2012 in order to avoid being arrested and extradited to Sweden where he faced sexual assault charges.

Swedish authorities have since dropped the investigation because they said it could not continue without Mr Assange in the country.

But WikiLeaks fear he would be extradited to the United States if he leaves the embassy in London’s Knightsbridge district to be investigated over his part in the leak of hundreds of thousands of highly sensitive US diplomatic cables in 2010.

Mr Assange’s lawyers argue he would not receive a fair trial if he was sent to the US and could even be sentenced to death.

As it stands, the Australian could be arrested by London police if he steps out of the building, for breaching bail conditions.

Last week, Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, accused WikiLeaks of hacking and publishing his personal data.

WikiLeaks said Ecuador was using the alleged data hack as a pretext for trying to remove Mr Assange from the embassy.

Updated: April 10, 2019 05:03 PM