The Ecuadorian diplomat who gave Julian Assange political asylum reports from the extradition hearing against the WikiLeaks journalist, and explains why it is “the most important case against the freedom of expression in an entire generation.”
by Fidel Narváez, (translated by Ben Norton)
Part 10 - Assange and his lawyers were illegally spied on by the U.S., which makes a fair trial impossible
The testimonies of two protected witnesses, former employees of the Spanish security firm UC Global, which spied on Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy, were partially read in court.
The witnesses confirmed that the company, following the instructions of the director David Morales, recorded conversations between Assange and his lawyers and gave the information to U.S. intelligence officials.
Morales, a former Spanish military officer who called himself a “mercenary,” even discussed poisoning Assange or allowing him to be kidnapped.
According to the witnesses, around 2016, Morales attended a security conference in the United States, where he obtained a lucrative contract with the firm Las Vegas Sands, the property of a close friend and billionaire financier of Donald Trump.
Upon returning, Morales met with his employees and told them, “from now on we are playing in the Big Leagues.” Later, he privately admitted that they had passed over to the “dark side,” referring to their cooperation with U.S. authorities, and that “the Americans will get us contracts across the world.”
Morales began to make regular trips to the United States to speak with “our American friends,” and when he was asked who those friends were, he replied, “U.S. intelligence.”
According to protected Witness #1, Morales developed a sophisticated system to compile information in the embassy, replacing the internal camera system to be able to record audio. UC Global put together reports that Morales personally brought to the U.S. authorities, with details that violated the privacy of Assange, his lawyers, doctors, and other visitors.
Morales was obsessed with recording the lawyers of the “guest,” Assange, because “the American friends” had told him to, the witness said.
The protected Witness #2 admitted to the court that he had installed secret microphones and new cameras with audio recording, and that, at David Morales’ orders, denied to Ecuadorian diplomats that the cameras could record audio.
Around June 2017, Morales requested that the cameras be able to livestream, so that “our friends in the United States” could have access to the inside of the embassy in real time.
The witness confessed, “I did not want to collaborate in an illegal act of that magnitude,” adding that “Morales told me to put a microphone in the meeting room… and another microphone in the bathroom at the end of the embassy, a place that had become strategic for Mr. Assange, who suspected that he was a target of spying, and held many meetings there to try to keep them private.”
“All of the embassy came to have microphones,” the witness said. Morales also insisted on “putting certain decals on all of the external windows of the embassy,” which would allow sophisticated external laser microphones to “capture all of the conversations” for “our American friends.”
Witness #2 also said, “On one occasion, David [Morales] said the Americans were so desperate that they even suggested taking extreme measures against the ‘guest.'” He added, “In concrete, the suggestion was that they leave open the door of the embassy, which would allow them to argue it was an accidental error, and which would allow people to enter and kidnap the asylee.”
Moreover, the witness continued, “they discussed the possibility of poisoning Mr. Assange. All of those suggestions, Morales said, were being considered in negotiations with his contacts in the United States.”
A professor of international law at Oxford University, Guy Goodwin-Gill, gave written testimony in which he said that, when he attended a meeting in the embassy about “international legal aspects of asylum,” on June 16, 2016, his electronic devices were spied on by UC Global.
This was confirmed by protected Witness #2, who recalled that one of the employees of UC Global showed him the iPad of Goodwin-Gill with “many messages and emails in the home screen,” assuring him that “the contents of the iPad had been copied.”
Professor Goodwin-Gill called the spying a form of “legal interference” in the “sovereign affairs” of Ecuador, with the goal of carrying out a trial against a person whom the embassy was trying to protect. “The violation of one state’s sovereignty would then be joined by the likely violation of the individual’s fundamental rights to due process and equality of arms,” he said.
He added that the spying and exchange of “confidential privileged information” should be considered a sign of political motivation, with the intention and goal of influencing the extradition request.
On this point, I should add that, in my capacity as a former diplomat in the embassy of Ecuador in London, I am a witness in the criminal investigation against UC Global in Madrid, and I have been able to review, personally, an abundance of evidence not only against Assange and his lawyers, but also against all of his visitors and even the officials at the embassy.
The spying included, furthermore, tracking my activities outside of the embassy, which has been confessed by witnesses under oath.
As for the U.S. spying, the prosecution instructed the court to neither confirm nor deny if the statements by the witnesses are “true or false.”
Nevertheless, former CIA director Leon Panetta told German state television, “It does not surprise me… That kind of thing goes on all the time. In intelligence business, the name of the game is to get information any way you can, and I’m sure that’s what was involved here.”