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Archive for Ecuador

Newsline: WikiLeaks’ Assange testifies in embassy spying case

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on Friday testified in his legal case against a Spanish private security firm that he claims spied on him while he was holed up in the Ecuadoran embassy in London. Assange, who is currently serving time at a high-security prison in Britain, was to answer questions from a judge at Spain’s National Court in Madrid, testifying by videoconference from Westminster Magistrates Court in London, his legal team said. (https://www.france24.com/en/20191220-wikileaks-assange-testifies-in-embassy-spying-case) Spain’s top criminal court is investigating whether Undercover Global Ltd, which was responsible for security at the embassy, spied on Assange and passed on information to the United States. The case is key to Assange’s efforts to fight an extradition request by the US Justice Department which is pushing to have him put on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010. “The case being investigated in Spain states that Mr Assange has been subjected to widespread interference on a massive scale by the American authorities, violating his confidential communications with his lawyers, among other rights,” his legal team said. “The information gathered by this firm — through the alleged use of video cameras which also captured audio, hidden microphones, copying identity documents, monitoring the electronic devices and mobile phones of visitors, among other things — ended up in the hands of the US intelligence services.” There was a “huge body of evidence” to back the claim, coming from both company data as well as from protected witnesses who were formerly employed by the firm, the source said. As well as installing cameras, Undercover Global is suspected of installing microphones in places as diverse as the base of a fire extinguisher and in the women’s toilets, where Assange held many meetings for fear of being spied on. They were allegedly able to record discussions with his lawyers as well as details of medical visits, with the information then transferred to servers that were accessible to the US intelligence services. His legal team said that given the alleged spying at the embassy, it “underlines the need for the British judicial system to refuse to hand him over to the United States” where there were no guarantees for his safety.

Newsline: Mexico offers protection to six people at its embassy in Ecuador

The Mexican embassy in Ecuador’s capital Quito has offered protection and shelter to six people, including legislators and their spouses, Mexico’s foreign ministry said. The embassy offered protection and shelter to opposition legislator Gabriela Rivadeneira, a member of the party of former Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa, whose allies have been accused of stirring up unrest by President Lenin Moreno. (https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ecuador-protests-mexico/mexico-offers-protection-to-six-people-at-its-embassy-in-ecuador-idUSKBN1WU02D) Moreno on Monday scrapped a law to cut expensive fuel subsidies after days of violent protests against the IMF-backed measure, returning fuel prices to prior levels until a new measure can be found.

Newsline: Spain: Court probes spying of Assange at Ecuadorean embassy

Spain’s National Court said Wednesday it is investigating a Spanish security firm that worked for the Ecuadorean Embassy in London on suspicion that it spied on WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for U.S. secret services during the seven years he spent in the embassy. The court said it is investigating whether David Morales and his Undercover Global S.L. security agency invaded Assange’s privacy and that of his lawyers by installing hidden microphones and other devices in the embassy. (http://www.startribune.com/spain-court-probes-spying-of-assange-at-ecuadorean-embassy/562627142/) It said the information gathered appeared to have been passed on to Ecuadorean and U.S. bodies. Assange is jailed in London, fighting extradition to the United States on espionage charges. He was given asylum in the embassy for some seven years after jumping bail in 2012 when Sweden sought his extradition on sexual misconduct allegations. Court documents said Morales and his firm, based in the southern Spanish town of Jerez de la Frontera, were also under investigation for bribery and money laundering. The court opened the investigation in August following a complaint by Assange and his defense team, but did not release the information until Wednesday as it had placed a secrecy order on the case. A court official confirmed that Morales was arrested last month but is on conditional release.

Newsline: Ecuador Counts Cost to Spin Assange’s Asylum at Its U.K. Embassy

Ecuador’s London embassy spent $144,000 on public relations associated with the asylum it gave to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, the country’s Comptroller General’s Office found in an audit. The embassy also spent $332,000 on legal advice during the same 2012-2013 period, and $105,000 on food for Assange during his seven-year stay, according to the audit, which was signed by auditor Sonia Sierra. (https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-07-12/ecuador-counts-cost-to-spin-assange-s-asylum-at-its-u-k-embassy) The government of President Lenin Moreno had Assange expelled from the embassy in April. He is currently in jail in the U.K., and is facing an extradition request from the U.S., which has charged him with 18 counts related to endangering national security by conspiring to obtain and disclose classified information. Some of the embassy’s public relations spending went to MCSquared, which represented the government of Rafael Correa, the country’s president from 2007 to 2017, in a campaign against U.S. oil company Chevron Corp, the audit found.

Newsline: Protests at Ecuador embassy amid claim US will seize Assange belongings

Protesters have gathered outside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London amid claims US officials will seize Julian Assange’s belongings. A small crowd chanted in support of the WikiLeaks founder, 47, and one former diplomat described Ecuador’s treatment of Assange as “shameful”. (https://www.irishexaminer.com/breakingnews/world/protests-at-ecuador-embassy-amid-claim-us-will-seize-assange-belongings-925481.html) The whistleblower was dramatically dragged from the embassy, in Knightsbridge, in April and sentenced to 50 weeks in Belmarsh Prison for a bail breach. WikiLeaks claims his belongings, including legal papers, medical records and electronic equipment, will be handed to US prosecutors, who are seeking his extradition, on May 20.

Newsline: Ecuador will give Julian Assange’s embassy computers and files to the US

The government of Ecuador has taken one more step in its offensive against cyberactivist Julian Assange. The Ecuadorian attorney general has greenlighted an operation to search one of the rooms that the WikiLeaks founder used during his prolonged stay at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, and agreed to turn over to US authorities any documents, cellphones, digital files, computers, memory drives, CDs and any other devices that may turn up during the search, according to an official notice that EL PAÍS has seen on May 13. (https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/05/13/inenglish/1557735550_398996.html) The US government wants Assange to be extradited from the United Kingdom so he can be tried for the release of classified military material in 2010. He is being charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion in the US, and faces up to five years in prison if found guilty of leaking 450,000 internal documents about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to the media.

Newsline: Spanish journalist arrested for trying to sell Assange embassy videos for $3.4M

A Spanish journalist and an unnamed computer programmer were arrested Wednesday for allegedly trying to make more $3.4 million by selling videos of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during his time the Ecuador Embassy in London. Jose Martin Santos, who was previously convicted for fraud in a separate case, was taken into custody in Alicante for allegedly being part of a network trying to bribe Wikileaks for millions in exchange for the private videos, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported. (https://www.foxnews.com/world/julian-assange-spain-journalist-embassy-videos) The unnamed computer programmer was also arrested in Alicante, a port city about 260 miles southeast of Madrid. According to the report, the two men plus one more unidentified person met with Wikileaks representative Kristinn Hrafnsson on April 2 and showed her 103 files containing private correspondence and audiovisual material obtained at the embassy. They said the documents would make it to the press unless they were paid $3.4 million. The meeting triggered a complaint filed by Assange at a Madrid court, accused Martin Santos of trying to blackmail Wikileaks as well as embassy personnel, El Pais reported. Assange, 47, was forcibly removed last month from the Ecuadorian embassy in London after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, accusing him of everything from meddling in the nation’s foreign affairs to poor hygiene. Days after his arrest, El Pais published footage showing Assange’s bizarre behavior inside the embassy, including attempting to skateboard around the room to pass the time, and also shows him getting into an argument with a security guard who objected to a meeting he was trying to hold there. It’s unclear if the footage in question overlapped.