A group of four US journalists and lawyers who visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London are suing the CIA and its former director, Mike Pompeo, for unlawfully obtained confidential information from their smartphones and laptops. In a lawsuit filed on 15 August 2022 they claim that staff working for a security company at the Embassy unlawfully copied their electronic devices and passed their contents to the CIA during visits to Assange.
According to an article in Computer Weekly (https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252523850/Lawyers-and-journalists-sue-CIA-and-Mike-Pompeo-over-Assange-surveillance-claims) their lawyers claim there is strong circumstantial evidence that staff working for the security company UC Global copied the electronic devices of US visitors to Assange at the Embassy on behalf of the CIA – breaching the visitors’ constitutional rights.
The article claims that visitors to the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, including journalists and doctors who carried out medical checks on Assange were required to hand over their ‘phones, laptop computers and other electronic devices to security staff before being allowed to visit the WikiLeaks founder, who took refuge in the Embassy in 2012. They were unaware that Embassy security staff had copied their devices and allegedly passed on their contents and covert recordings of their conversations in the Embassy to the US intelligence agency.
Richard Roth, attorney for the group, told Computer Weekly that he was confident the lawsuit would show the CIA’s involvement in surveillance at the Embassy (and see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2XlGS_9obo).
“There is strong circumstantial evidence that the CIA has this information,” he said. “We believe there is sufficient evidence to allege a complaint and we further believe that once we get the document from UC Global from different entities, we will find some very troubling facts.”
The lawsuit claims that UC Global and its owner, David Morales, acted as a conduit for information to the CIA allegations that were described as “bullshit” and an attempt to create noise around the extradition case against Assange.
The case will have no immediate implications for extradition proceedings against Assange from the UK to the US to face charges under the US Espionage Act and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. An appeal by Assange’s lawyers to the High Court against extradition was submitted on 1 July and a decision on whether they will hear the case is awaited.