On Friday 20 December, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was taken from Belmarsh prison to Westminster Magistrates Court to testify against David Morales, the founder of security firm UC Global, via a video link in front of a Spanish prosecutor.
The hearing took place in non-public session. No media or public representatives were allowed to enter the courtroom or listen to Assange. The remarkable reasoning was that the indictment against UC Global in Spain concerned “matters of national security”.
24 hours earlier, Assange had testified via Video Link in a hearing that had been about the February 24 hearing on the U.S. request for extradition. Assange is charged with 17 counts of espionage. He faces life imprisonment for his role in the WikiLeaks disclosure of the documents that exposed American war crimes and diplomatic intrigue. Chelsea Manning had made the documents available.
The Morales case has a major impact on the American request for extradition. UC Global was tasked by the Ecuadorian government to ensure the security of its embassy in London, where Assange applied for and was granted political asylum in June 2012. Instead of protecting Assange, UC Global is known to have illegally monitored and recorded every aspect of his private life from 2015 to March 2018. Findings published by the Spanish newspaper El País and the Italian newspaper La Repubblica leave little doubt that the surveillance was carried out on behalf of the USA.
Among the many conversations that were illegally spied on, even confidential conversations between Assange and his lawyers and Doctors. This violated his fundamental right to privacy.
As Assange’s British lawyers made clear again on Friday, they want to use the evidence from the UC Global case to argue that the extradition request is Null and void from the outset. This also proves that Assange cannot expect a fair trial in the USA. In this regard, there is an important precedent from the 1970s, when the case against the informant Daniel Ellsberg in the case of the “Pentagon Papers” had to be dropped, when it became known that President Nixon had Ellsberg’s consultations with his doctors monitored.
The importance of the case against UC Global was underlined when the British authorities initially refused to comply with the European Investigation Order (EEA). European Investigation Order," the EIO") of the Spanish judge José de la Mata, which demands that Assange be made available for a witness statement. His appearance yesterday was due to considerable media coverage of an official complaint by Judge de la Mata. El País writes that the withdrawal took place only because Britain’s position “was seen as resisting an investigation that could impede Assange’s extradition to the United States.”
Morales and UC Global significantly strengthened the security equipment and procedures at the Ecuadorian embassy in 2017. In the same year, Trump announced an intensification of the U.S. intelligence activities against Assange. Cameras and recording equipment were installed In the embassy and secret microphones were installed in all rooms where Assange was staying.
According to La Repubblica journalist Stefania Maurizi, who was able to obtain files on the UC global espionage operation, doctors, journalists, politicians and celebrities who visited Assange were among the people observed. UC Global has created a Profile about assange’s London-based lawyer Jennifer Robinson, and the head of his legal team in Spain, Baltasar Garzón,. A number of photos Maurizi has seen show that Garzón was also observed. The phone and several USB Sticks of the Repubblica author were also tampered with.
Maurizi wrote on November 18:
Nothing and no one was spared. Even the protection of the inviolable most Meetings was injured – Video and audio recordings, which has seen Repubblica, show a half-naked Julian Assange during a medical examination, the Ecuadorian Ambassador Carlos Abad Ortiz and his staff during a diplomatic Meeting, two of assange’s lawyers, Gareth Peirce and Aitor Martinez, entering the woman’s toilet for a private conversation with your client.
Julian Assange had suggested holding the legal discussions in the women’s toilet, as he suspected that he was under intense surveillance. The lawyers initially saw this as paranoid, and UC Global reassured them on this point, but in reality, microphones had even been installed in the ladies ' room.
According to the New York Times, the 61-page court file of the Spanish prosecutor’s Office shows that the information gathered in the embassy was transmitted to UC Global’s headquarters in Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain.
In a hearing by Judge José de la Mata, Morales claimed that all the recordings were made on behalf of the Ecuadorian Secret Service and that the country’s ambassador had been informed about them. He claims that" there was no access from the outside to absolutely no Information " collected within the embassy. However, former company employees have testified that Morales traveled to the United States once or twice a month and took hard drives with the recordings. These employees also claim that Morales ordered them to keep the trips secret from the Ecuadorian officials.
In 2015, Morales signed a contract with the casino operator of Las Vegas Sands, who, according to the indictment, acted as a middleman to the CIA. The owner of Las Vegas Sands Sheldon Adelson, “a prominent donor to the Republican party and Donald trump’s personal friend,” said El País.
Morales is said to have returned from a security Fair in Las Vegas and told an employee: “from now on we play in the first division … we now work for the dark side.“He indicated that this meant working for the American Secret Service.
The former Ecuadorian legal Consul in London, Fidel Navraez, dismissed on Friday in court, Morales‘ assertion that the Surveillance had been carried out on behalf of Ecuadorian authorities.
This company - UC Global - was taken by Ecuador under contract to protect the Embassy, to protect Julian Assange, to protect the Embassy staff,” he said. “But this is a corrupt company, we know that now.
Illegal spying is only one of many violations of the law committed against Assange by the governments of the USA, great Britain, Sweden, Ecuador and Australia. Last Thursday, Assange’s legal team presented several packages of evidence in his defense against extradition to the United States early next year. They clearly show the blatant political nature of the US government’s accusation of espionage. They also contain evidence relating to Chelsea Manning, public statements by US politicians who pre-judged Assange and WikiLeaks, and other documents that negate any prospect of a fair trial. Further evidence shows that the whole trial against him is not lawful, that prison conditions mock all the rules, and that Assange is denied medical treatment.
Speaking to the New York Times, Amy Jeffress, a former U.S. Department of Justice Attachée at the U.S. Embassy in London, claimed that the illegality evident in the UC Global case was not relevant to Assange’s extradition. According to the New York Times, she said:
The legal Standard depends on whether the extradition complies with the UK Human Rights Act, which protects the right to privacy, but it must be weighed against considerations such as national security and crime prevention.
Such statements can only underline how much the political Establishment tramples all legal principles and basic democratic rights in the case of Julian Assange. Assange has never committed a crime. In the public interest, and in partnership with major Newspapers around the world, WikiLeaks published leaked documents that revealed the rampant criminality of the American and other governments.
Assange’s human rights have been blatantly violated for nine years. When he was allegedly under the protection of political asylum, every word he said was overheard and every movement monitored. This merciless persecution aims to silence every potential Whistleblower and every upright journalist.