After sensitive CIA information was leaked, Mike Pompeo and the Trump Administration sought to exact revenge upon Julian Assange. Dr John Jiggens reports.
IN APRIL 2017, CIA director Mike Pompeo declared that it was time to call out WikiLeaks, describing it as “a non-state hostile Intelligence service, often abetted by state actors like Russia” and said that WikiLeaks would be ended.
Julian Assange responded to Pompeo’s threat in an interview with Jeremy Scahill on his podcast, The Intercept:
“Pompeo has stated that this is the end of WikiLeaks and its publications. So how does he propose to conduct this ending? He didn't say, but the CIA is only in the business of collecting information, kidnapping people and assassinating people. So it's quite a menacing statement that he does need to clarify.”
In a powerful piece of investigative journalism this week, Yahoo! News revealed that Julian Assange’s suspicions were right. Pompeo’s speech marked an intensification of the war on WikiLeaks. The CIA had begun planning to either kidnap Julian Assange from the Ecuadorean Embassy or to assassinate the Australian publisher.
The Yahoo! teams’ investigation was based on conversations with 30 former U.S. officials. Among those interviewed, eight provided details on plans to kidnap Assange. They said Assange had become an obsession for the CIA and its director Mike Pompeo.
The Yahoo! team quoted one associate who said:
“Pompeo was completely detached from reality and was seeing blood.”
Greg Barns SC, a barrister and advisor to Julian Assange, told Bay FM that the CIA was angry over the leak about the CIA’s secret computer hacking tools, known as ‘Vault 7’:
Essentially, this was after the publication by WikiLeaks, called ‘Vault 7’, which is a highly classified document of the CIA that is a how-to manual, if you like, and provides a lot of detailed information about how the CIA goes about its very darkest operations. Once it was published, it created a storm. What was already a hostile climate became intense, a collective hatred for Assange in the CIA, which built on top of the already hostile climate WikiLeaks faced in Washington generally.
Mike Pompeo, who was the CIA director then and would later become Secretary of State under Trump, became party to a scheme, which was essentially to kidnap or kill Assange. The CIA hatched a number of extraordinary plans, which were knocked back as too dangerous and likely to endanger U.S. legal moves.
In the paranoid manner of spooks, the CIA next became extremely afraid that Russian intelligence would carry out what they had planned: to kidnap Assange from the embassy and fly him to Russia. If this eventuated, they planned to stop the Russians by a sort of road rage incident of ramming the Russian car, or by having a helicopter hover over the Russian plane on the tarmac, preventing it from taking off. They even war-gamed a shoot-out with the Russians in the streets of London.
Greg Barns said:
It was like something out of a James Bond film, except sadly, it was very true. There was a clear plan to take Assange out. We now have the Australian Government on notice that one of its citizens was the subject of a conspiracy to murder plot by the CIA.
No Australian government should sit on its hands and do nothing in those circumstances. We've seen in the last week the cuddling up by Australia to Washington with Washington saying they have no better ally than Australia. If that's the case, they ought to be protecting this Australian citizen. The conduct of the CIA was outrageous, unlawful and represents a complete breach of the so-called alliance or friendship between Australia and the United States.
The Yahoo! report confirms long-held suspicions about surveillance of WikiLeaks activists and Assange’s lawyers.
Said Greg Barns:
There's no doubt that there's been long-standing surveillance of those of us who've been supporting Assange and those of us who have been to the Ecuadorian embassy, including myself. We had reports in relation to his partner Stella that spies were rummaging through the rubbish bin, looking for the nappies of one of their children to determine if Julian was the father: extraordinary and illegal surveillance not only on Assange, but anyone who came near him and including the illegal surveillance of meetings, including meetings with his lawyers.
The CIA acts essentially as a criminal enterprise. It is state sanctioned criminality. To be overtly planning to murder someone in any circumstances would amount to a conspiracy to murder for anyone else and the persons would face very serious criminal charges.
The hearing for the U.S. appeal against the UK decision not to extradite Assange is due on 27 and 28 October. Although two days are allocated, it may run longer as the U.S. wants to examine the psychologist whose evidence on Assange they want to challenge.
Another issue will be how long it takes before the Court of Appeal hands down its decision. That could be anywhere from three weeks to a few months. And so the question is whether or not we'll know the result before the end of the year.
Dr John Jiggens is a writer and journalist currently working in the community newsroom at Bay-FM in Byron Bay.
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