Thursday, 11 April 2019 06:38

WikiLeaks claims Ecuador spying on Assange

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and lawyer Jennifer Robinson addressing the media in London. WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson and lawyer Jennifer Robinson addressing the media in London. Courtesy WikiLeaks

WikiLeaks officials claim Ecuador has spied on its publisher Julian Assange — who is taking refuge in the country's London embassy — and the information it obtained was used by an unspecified group in Spain to try and extort as much as €3 million from the group.

The group's editor-in-chief, Kristinn Hrafnsson, told a media conference in London on Wednesday that Assange's meetings with lawyers and a doctor had been secretly filmed by the Ecuadorian authorities.

The whistleblower group released letters sent to Assange by embassy officials in which he was asked not to create any interference that would prevent eavesdropping on his meetings - such as playing a radio loudly during meetings or turning a bright light in the direction of surveillance cameras in the room where the meeting was taking place.

Hrafnsson said photos, documents and audio recordings about Assange's activities in the embassy had been sent to WikiLeaks by "Spanish individuals".

He said WikiLeaks had heard some weeks ago about the material on Assange and had contacted a member of the group that claimed to have a trove of material. Proof was provided, including a snapshot from a video recording of a meeting that Hrafnsson had with Assange.

ABC News reported that Ecuador Vice-President Otto Sonnenholzner had said Assange would have to abide by the rules laid down by Quito if he wanted to stay in the embassy.

He said that certain rules had been laid down for Assange in order to reduce the costs of providing him asylum. Foreign Minister José Valencia has presented a report about Assange to President Lenín Moreno on Wednesday, and would inform congressional leaders about it a day later.

Assange has been taking refuge in Ecuador's London embassy since June 2012. He faces arrest by the British police if he leaves the embassy for jumping bail.

But WikiLeaks says the thing Assange fears is being extradited to the US to face charges over leaking of classified material, including footage of indiscriminate killing of civilians by US troops who were occupying Iraq.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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