Britain obstructs Spanish investigation into CIA spying on Julian Assange

Oscar Grenfell writes:

Information about the surveillance operation was first reported by El Pais last month. It revealed that UC Global’s David Morales came into contact with US officials in 2015 and agreed to furnish them with confidential information about Assange.

Over the following two years, the spying dramatically escalated. It included live video and audio feeds from inside the embassy, which were streamed to CIA offices in Langley, Virginia. Every area of the building, including the women’s toilet, was under surveillance.

The spying covered Assange’s privileged conversations with his lawyers, and private consultations with doctors. It allegedly came to include the theft of his legal and medical documents. A diaper was even DNA-tested to see if Assange was the father of a baby who had been brought to the building.

The WikiLeaks founder’s visitors were also scrutinised. A follow-up report in El Pais indicated that US visitors, along with lawyers and journalists, were particularly targeted. Details of their personal documents and their electronic devices, including information that could be used to hack their phone, was transmitted by UC Global to the CIA.

The extent of the surveillance is known, in part, because copies of the material were in the possession of a group of Spanish criminals. Earlier this year, they sought to extort millions of euros in exchange for videos, photos and audio recordings of Assange and his visitors.

Assange’s lawyers filled a criminal complaint in Spain earlier this year. Morales was arrested last month and released on bail. El Pais reported: “On September 25, Judge José de la Mata sent British authorities an European Investigation Order (EIO) requesting permission to question Assange by videoconference as a witness in the case opened by Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional…”

On behalf of the United Kingdom Central Authority, Rashid Begun rejected the request, claiming that “these types of interviews are only done by the police” in Britain, that the events described by de la Mata were “unclear” and that the Spanish judge may not have jurisdiction to authorise the interview.

In a reply cited by El Pais, de la Mata rejected these assertions. He reportedly noted previous cases, in which the British authority had accepted similar requests, and said that the only obstacle would be if the interviewee was accused of a crime. He reminded the British, however, that “in this case, Julian Assange is a witness, not an accused party.”

De la Mata wrote: “The Spanish judicial system has jurisdiction and is able to hear cases of crimes committed by Spanish citizens outside of the country as long as the event is a crime in the place where it was committed, the victim or the public prosecutor present a criminal complaint, and the suspect has not been sentenced or acquitted in another country.”Article continues below the form

Assange’s complaint, he insisted, met all of these criteria.

Referenced from World Socialist Web Site