Tapes of Spaniards’ attempt to extort Julian Assange

Editor’s Note: While this is old, it adds depth to our understanding of the spying saga at the Ecuadorian Embassy

On the 20th June 2019 JOSÉ MARÍA IRUJO reported in EL PAÍS

“Do you work for free? This material is worth €3 million. We have to put food on our tables too, you know.”

Thanks to assistance from the police, there is recorded evidence of a meeting at Madrid’s Reina Victoria Hotel in which a Spanish reporter named José Martín Santos and two computer experts attempted to sell WikiLeaks sensitive material in connection with an alleged case of spying against Julian Assange while he was living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

In the recorded conversation, to which EL PAÍS has had access, the alleged extortionists said that there were microphones at the embassy, and that all recorded material involving the WikiLeaks founder was being handed over to the ambassador for review. Martín and one of his associates in Alicante offered WikiLeaks the opportunity to spy on their spies, for a price. Two of the three alleged extortionists have since been arrested and are now being investigated by the courts.

The Madrid meeting took place on April 3 at 7pm. Twenty-four hours earlier, WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and Assange’s lawyer, Aitor Martínez, had met with the three would-be extortionists at the same hotel. And just a few days before that, the latter had cast their net on Twitter by offering to sell personal files about Assange’s seven-year stay at the embassy to the highest bidder.

At their second meeting, however, there were some extra guests that the sellers had not been expecting: several officers from the police Kidnapping and Extortion department, who monitored the entire conversation. Martín, a journalist who had been convicted to three years in prison for fraud in the past, opened the talks by asserting that he and his aides wanted to help the cyber-activist.

Read whole article in EL PAÍS