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USA: CIA ’s plans to murder Assange exposed

Tuesday 28 September 2021, by siawi3

Source: https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/trump-administration-floated-kidnapping-killing-julian-assange-report-20210927-p58v72.html

Trump administration floated kidnapping, killing Julian Assange: report

By Latika Bourke

September 27, 2021 — 6.09pm

A report claims the CIA raised the prospect of killing or capturing Julian Assange while he evaded possible charges hiding in Ecuador’s embassy in London because they feared the Australian was plotting an escape of his own.

The report, published by yahoo!news, relied on interviews with 30 former US officials and said eight of them detailed the plot to assassinate Assange.
Julian Assange, pictured in 2017 at the Ecuadorian embassy.

Photo: Julian Assange, pictured in 2017 at the Ecuadorian embassy.Credit:AP

Former US president Donald Trump declared the report “totally false” and said he never considered assassinating Assange.

The publication claimed that officials picked up what the former Trump administration viewed as highly credible intelligence suggesting the Russians were preparing to sneak Assange out themselves, possibly in a laundry basket, and whisk him to safety in Moscow.

About this time, Ecuadorian officials were proposing providing Assange with a diplomatic passport that would have enabled him to serve in their mission in Russia.

Photo: Former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Credit:AP

CIA officials game-planned how they could foil any Russian escape.

One method involved a potential gunfight with Kremlin operatives in the streets of London, another was crashing a car into Assange’s getaway vehicle or shooting the tyres of his plane to prevent it from taking off.

The report said that the British agreed that their authorities would do the shooting.

“We had all sorts of reasons to believe he was contemplating getting the hell out of there,” a former senior administration official is quoted as saying.

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“It was going to be like a prison break movie.”

The plans were never approved. Kristinn Hrafnsson from WikiLeaks said he wondered if he was also on the CIA’s “kill list”.

Michael Isikoff, one of the journalists who wrote the article, told MSNBC that one outcome of the CIA’s extreme plans was that the White House spurred the Justice Department into mounting a case against Assange.

The report argued that the pursuit of Assange was driven by former CIA director Mike Pompeo when he was installed as Donald Trump’s secretary of state.

In 2017 Pompeo designated WikiLeaks a “hostile non-state intelligence service” often aided and abetted by Russia.

Assange is resisting his extradition to the US to face charges over the hacking and publication of hundreds of thousands of classified cables a decade ago.

He is detained in Belmarsh Prison. His next legal hearing is set for late October.

His lawyers have repeatedly argued that the US attempt to extradite him is politically motivated.

In 2016, WikiLeaks also published emails hacked from Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign key adviser - something Clinton and some of her supporters say contributed to her election defeat to Trump.

The Biden administration has faced renewed calls to drop the charges but is continuing to seek Assange’s extradition to the US.

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Source: https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/27/22696436/cia-kidnap-julian-assange-assassination-pompeo-trump

CIA developed plans to kidnap Julian Assange, per report

‘Wikileaks was a complete obsession’ for CIA director Mike Pompeo

By Russell Brandom

Sep 27, 2021, 2:58pm EDT

Photo: Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy
Cancillería del Ecuador / Flickr

The Trump administration’s CIA actively developed plans to kidnap or assassinate Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during his seclusion in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, according to a detailed new report from Yahoo News. Scenarios included abducting Assange from the embassy, intercepting a Russian effort to extract him, or an outright assassination attempt. While none of the operations were ever approved, they paint an alarming portrait of intelligence agencies’ ongoing obsession with Wikileaks and its controversial founder.

As sources, Yahoo cites conversations with more than 30 former US officials. Among those, eight provided details on plans to kidnap Assange.

The report mostly details operations developed during the Trump administration, which placed fewer restraints on the CIA and was less troubled by the implications of launching direct operations against a figure many saw as a journalist. The issue became particularly heated in March of 2017, when Wikileaks published a catalog of hacking tools developed by the CIA. After that, “WikiLeaks was a complete obsession of Pompeo’s,” a source told Yahoo.

“There was a fundamental change” when Trump took office, Yahoo quotes a former senior counterintelligence official as saying. “Nobody in that crew was going to be too broken up about the First Amendment issues.”

The report confirms long-held suspicions about surveillance of Wikileaks activists, as well as espionage activists around Assange’s stay at the embassy. “It got to the point where every human being in a three-block radius [of the embassy] was working for one of the intelligence services,” one official told Yahoo, “whether they were street sweepers or police officers or security guards.”

The plans were mostly blocked by lawyers associated with the White House or the Justice Department, who saw any abduction as straightforwardly illegal. The idea of an assassination was shut down even earlier, with one official describing it as “just spitballing.”

Still, the reporting cuts a stark contrast with President Trump’s statements on the campaign trail, where he often praised Assange and Wikileaks for their role in publishing hacked information from the Clinton campaign.

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/media/2021/sep/27/senior-cia-officials-trump-discussed-assassinating-julian-assange

Julian Assange
CIA officials under Trump discussed assassinating Julian Assange: report

Mike Pompeo and officials requested ‘options’ for killing Assange following Wikileaks’ publication of CIA hacking tools, report says

Photo: Julian Assange is now in prison in London, from where he is fighting extradition to the US. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

by Julian Borger
in Washington

Mon 27 Sep 2021 21.22 BST
Last modified on Mon 27 Sep 2021 21.24 BST

Senior CIA officials during the Trump administration discussed abducting and even assassinating Wikileaks founder, Julian Assange, according to a US report citing former officials.

The discussions on kidnapping or killing Assange took place in 2017, Yahoo News reported, when the fugitive Australian activist was entering his fifth year sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy. The then CIA director, Mike Pompeo, and his top officials were furious about Wikileaks’ publication of “Vault 7”, a set of CIA hacking tools, a breach which the agency deemed to be the biggest data loss in its history.

Pompeo and the CIA leadership “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7”, Yahoo cites a former Trump national security official as saying. “They were seeing blood.”

Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration went as far as to request “sketches” or “options” for killing Assange. “There seemed to be no boundaries,” a former senior counterterrorist official was quoted as saying.

The CIA declined to comment.

The kidnapping or murder of a civilian accused of publishing leaked documents, with no connection to terrorism, would have triggered global outrage.

Pompeo raised eyebrows in 2017 by referring to Wikileaks as a “non-state hostile intelligence service”. The Yahoo report said that it was a significant designation, as it implied a green light for a more aggressive approach to the pro-transparency group by CIA operatives, who could treat it as an enemy espionage organization.

Barry Pollack, Assange’s US lawyer, did not respond to a request for comment, but told Yahoo News: “As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because he had published truthful information.”

“My hope and expectation is that the UK courts will consider this information and it will further bolster its decision not to extradite to the US,” he added.

Assange had been sheltering in the Ecuadorian embassy since 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden to face sexual assault allegations. He gave himself up in 2019 and is now in prison in London, from where he is fighting extradition to the US.

US prosecutors have accused him under the Espionage Act of seeking to assist Chelsea Manning, hacking a military computer network to obtain classified documents attempting to help the former US Army analyst and conspiring to obtain and publish classified documents in violation of the Espionage Act.

The use of the Espionage Act in the case was heavily criticized by human rights groups who pointed out that it opened the door for its use against investigative journalists in general, much of whose work revolves around obtaining and publishing information that governments would prefer to keep secret.