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Op-Ed: Spanish court investigates firm for spying on Assange for the US

The investigation was triggered by a newspaper report El Pais

The El Pais report
claimed: “… Undercover Global owner David Morales allegedly directed the surveillance and was personally responsible for making a deal with the CIA. Morales is reported to have asked employees to keep his firm’s collaboration with the US secret. Undercover Global installed microphones in several parts of Assange’s quarters, using things like the embassy’s fire extinguishers. The firm also put surveillance systems in the embassy’s female toilets, a place where Assange’s lawyers would meet amid fears that conference rooms were bugged. A streaming system was also allegedly installed, which would allow US officials to directly access Assange’s meetings in real time.”

The court document was dated August 7. The company and Morales are also being probed for bribery and money laundering according to the document. The court claimed it had opened the investigation after a complaint was made by Assange’s lawyers. Perhaps the El Pais report contributed to the complaint. The court said: “Meetings which Assange held with his lawyers, as well as medical visits and those of other nature were recorded.” The recorded information was then made available both to Ecuadorean and US intelligence services. Morales is also said to have made frequent trips to the US to personally deliver hard drives containing the recordings.

Morales said to have paid to ensure there were no negative reports

The court said that Morales paid $22,000 a month in cash to the head of security at the embassy to make sure that there were no negative reports about the Undercover Global operations that could result in the firm losing its contract.

Morales arrested last month

Morales was actually arrested on Sept. 17 but has been conditionally released according to judicial sources. Morales must report to a judge every 15 days and has had his passport confiscated.

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Assange had taken refuge in the London Ecuadorean embassy in 2012. He claimed to be fleeing what he called a politically motivated extradition order to be returned to Sweden to answer questions on an alleged sexual assault. Assange stayed in the embassy right up until April of this year when Ecuador allowed UK police to drag him out. He was then sentenced to serve 50 weeks in a maximum security UK jail for breaching his bail conditions when he sought asylum in the embassy.

Assange is also subject to a US extradition request. In the US he faces a total of 18 charges. Most relate to obtaining and disseminating classified information by publishing military documents through the Wikileaks website. The appended video showing a helicopter attack that killed two Reuter’s personnel is one example of his publications.


The fact that the US chose a firm which is suspected of bribery and money laundering shows the lack of any oversight of those responsible for making such decisions. The choice of such a firm is liable to end up sullying the reputation of the US beyond that of choosing to spy on Assange. Ecuador comes out looking even worse as it has been shown to hire security officials who can be bribed.

The fact that meetings of Assange with his lawyers were recorded and delivered to US authorities should make it abundantly clear that Assange cannot face a fair trial in the US. The UK courts must surely deny the US extradition order. If they do not it would be a travesty of UK justice.

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The UK seems already be treating Assange unjustly by retaining him in jail while he awaits his extradition hearing: “The WikiLeaks founder would have been released from HMP Belmarsh on 22 September, Westminster magistrates court heard on Friday, but he was told he would be kept in jail because of “substantial grounds” for believing he would abscond again.”

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