WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange completed a 50-week sentence in September at Her Majesty’s Prison Belmarsh, a maximum security facility in southeast London.
The sentence stemmed from a charge of violating his bail conditions when he pursued political asylum from Ecuador.
Assange was expelled from the Ecuador embassy, arrested by British authorities, and detained after the United States government indicted him for publishing information that was provided to WikiLeaks by U.S. Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning.
In the hospital ward, Assange is kept in isolation for 22-23 hours each day. Guards lock down the prison when he is moved. And thus far, he has only been allowed two two-hour social visits each month. He is denied access to a computer, and his ability to work with his lawyers on his defense is undermined by punitive restrictions imposed on him.
The U.S. formally requested Assange’s extradition for charges that include allegations of violating the Espionage Act, making him the first journalist to be charged under the 1917 law.
As a result, after the 50-week sentence, Assange was immediately remanded into prison custody until his extradition hearing in February. It does not appear he was given much of an opportunity to challenge this decision by Judge Vanessa Baraitser, especially since it happened before Assange’s attorneys could file a bail application.
Around the time that the U.K. showed they would continue to serve the U.S. and keep Assange in detention, the Spanish newspaper El Pais reported that a Spanish security company bugged the Ecuador embassy with devices for audio and video streaming.
The company, Undercover Global, provided the CIA with access to the streams so the agency could spy on Assange. The CIA was eavesdropping on the women’s bathroom, where Assange held regular meetings with human rights attorneys defending him.
The major revelation was largely omitted or ignored by the U.S. media establishment.
U.S. senators and representatives said nothing about the agency’s role in planting listening devices at an embassy to target a publisher and political asylee.
Though one might be compelled to suggest they did not want to detract from support in the “intelligence community” for the Ukraine call whistleblower, who is a CIA employee, the reality is there is bipartisan support for the criminalization of Assange.
In fact, the El Pais report provides an opportunity for citizens to recognize that the CIA enlisted a Spanish security company to bug the embassy for the primary purpose of one day forcing Assange out of the embassy.
The CIA’s operations thrive on secrecy and lax oversight from the legislative branch. They were deeply annoyed and displeased by the unwanted scrutiny that WikiLeaks brought to them.
Kevin Gosztola looked back at the history between the CIA and WikiLeaks to show Assange’s expulsion, arrest, and jailing was a tremendous coup for an agency that had long viewed the dissident media organization as a “non-state hostile intelligence service.”
Read “The CIA’s War On WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange” featured by the publication Dialogue & Discourse at Medium.