A Spanish private security firm, Undercover Global S.L., which was hired as security for the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, was allegedly responsible for employing a number of surveillance devices to spy on Julian Assange during his lengthy asylum stay at the embassy. Assange and his lawyers allege that workers from Undercover Global planted a number of microphones in the embassy in 2017 and early 2018. They were hidden in things like fire extinguishers and inside the women’s bathroom where Assange’s lawyers would meet to avoid any potential prying eyes and ears. Employees from Undercover Global were also instructed to set up a streaming access point so that recordings could be accessed remotely. The Spanish news company El Pais reported that one of the three parties who were given access to this footage included agencies in the United States.
Beyond raising general concerns over privacy, these secret surveillance methods could be seen as a serious breach of attorney-client privilege, as conversations and meetings between Assange and his legal team would be picked up and broadcast through the embassy bugging network. What’s more, the head of Undercover Global, David Morales, has some ties to individuals close to President Trump, providing circumstantial evidence that the US might have been involved in the operation. Morales’s company was often employed by the casino magnate and by political donor Sheldon Adelson, who has close ties to Donald Trump and is a major donor to the Republican Party. During this same period in 2018, Assange became the target of CIA surveillance under the direction of then director Mike Pompeo. Assange has since been apprehended by British authorities and is awaiting extradition to the US where he faces charges in relation to his activity with Wikileaks that could lead to as much as 175-year prison sentence.
The original story was reported by the Spanish news outlet El Pais on September 26, 2019 with MintPress News expanding on the story regarding possible US connections between Undercover Global and individuals close to the US government. The corporate media coverage there has been has mostly focused on the legal battle between Assange and those who seek his extradition, mostly leaving out sordid details of spying and potential human rights violations reported by the independent sources listed here.
Jose Maria Irujo, “Spanish Security Company Spied on Julian Assange in London for the United States,” El Pais, September 26, 2019, https://english.elpais.com/elpais/2019/09/25/inenglish/1569384196_652151.html.
Jimmysllama, “How the Trump Admin Used a Secret Livestream to Spy on Julian Assange,” MintPress News, September 30, 2019, https://www.mintpressnews.com/us-complicit-julian-assange-surveillance-operation-ecuadorian-embassy/262131/.
Student Researcher: Troy Patton (Diablo Valley College)
Faculty Evaluator: Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)