Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder allege CIA allowed spying on their visits

Fourth Amendment

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder allege CIA allowed spying on their visits

Julian Assange is the founder of WikiLeaks, a non-profit organization that publishes leaked information and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Image from Shutterstock.

Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange are suing the CIA and former CIA Director Mike Pompeo for allegedly recording their conversations and copying data from their electronic devices.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in federal court in New York, Margaret Ratner Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek said they sought “to protect their fundamental constitutional right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure in violation of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution”. .”

They are joined in their lawsuit by journalists John Goetz and Charles Glass, as well as security firm Undercover Global and David Morales Guillen, its founder and former CEO, as defendants.

Agence France-Presse via the Guardian and Courthouse News Service and Bloomberg have coverage.

The plaintiffs, who are all US citizens, said in their complaint that they visited Assange while he was living under political asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. They had to return their phones and other devices. They allege that without their knowledge or consent, Undercover Global employees copied information stored on their devices.

They further allege that the security firm then provided this information to the CIA with Pompeo’s approval. Pompeo would later work as US Secretary of State in the Trump administration from 2018 to 2021.

“While the named plaintiffs initiate this action, the practices complained of violate the rights of more than 100 American citizens who visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England… during his sanctuary, including lawyers who represented him then, journalists there to interview him, and even the doctors treating him then, who each have a privileged and confidential connection with the asylum and other clients, sources and patients, some of whose confidential information has been stored on their electronic devices,” according to the complaint.

Plaintiffs also allege that between January 2017 and approximately April 2018, Pompeo authorized a surveillance system that placed hidden cameras around the Ecuadorian embassy. They said the footage from those cameras was later shared with the CIA.

Assange is awaiting extradition from England to the United States, where he faces 18 federal charges related to obtaining and disclosing classified information, Bloomberg reports.

Robert Boyle, a New York lawyer who is representing the lawyers and journalists in their lawsuit, told reporters the alleged spying on Assange’s lawyers means his right to a fair trial has “now been tainted, if not destroyed.” .

“Tapping meetings with friends, with lawyers and copying the digital information of one’s lawyers and friends taints criminal prosecutions because the government now knows the content of those communications,” Boyle reportedly said.

According to Bloomberg, a CIA spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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