A US judge has just ruled that individuals who visited Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in an embassy can proceed in their lawsuit against the CIA for spying.
The new details come amid the revelation that the CIA may have violated the rights of Assange’s associates. He gained notoriety after leaking details about Hillary Clinton ahead of the 2016 presidential election.
“A lawsuit journalists and allies of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brought against the CIA advanced in federal court Tuesday after a federal judge turned down a bid by the spy agency to toss out the case,” Politico reported.
“Manhattan-based US District Court Judge John Koeltl ruled four Americans who visited Assange while he was holed up at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London several years ago can proceed with their suit over allegations that a security contractor gave the CIA data copied from their phones during those visits,” the news agency added.
(Video Credit: The Hill)
The tables appear to have turned and Assange’s compatriots claim their privacy rights were violated. Ironically, Koeltl is an appointee of former President Bill Clinton.
“In his 27-page decision, Koeltl rejected portions of the Assange visitors’ lawsuit filed last year that alleged the CIA violated their rights by eavesdropping on conversations at the embassy and by obtaining copies of their passports,” Politico noted. “However, Koeltl said accessing the contents of their phones — if that occurred — invaded the visitors’ privacy rights under the U.S. Constitution.”
“The misconduct alleged is a violation of the plaintiffs’ reasonable expectation of privacy in the contents of their electronic devices under the Fourth Amendment,” the judge stated in his ruling.
Koeltl threw out a portion of the lawsuit that sought to win damages against former CIA Director Mike Pompeo over the incident. However, he contended that the plaintiffs could continue their suit against the CIA over the destruction of any records that were obtained from Assange’s visitors’ phones.
The ruling may cause officials to invoke the state-secrets privilege which could be used to quash the suit because it ostensibly implicates classified information.
Tucker Carlson on Why He Felt Compelled to Interview Julian Assange
“Then you find out that before [Assange] was charged with any crime in the United States that Mike Pompeo, who was the director of the CIA, decided to kill him, to assassinate him before he’d been charged… pic.twitter.com/Cz1HIO8822
— Chief Nerd (@TheChiefNerd) December 14, 2023
“The suit was filed in August 2022 on behalf of two attorneys who visited Assange in 2017, Margaret Ratner Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek, along with two journalists: John Goetz with German broadcaster NDR and Charles Glass, a freelance reporter formerly with ABC News,” Politico wrote.
“We are thrilled that the Court rejected the CIA’s efforts to silence the Plaintiffs, who merely seek to expose the CIA’s attempt to carry out Pompeo’s vendetta against WikiLeaks,” the attorney representing the visitors, Richard Roth, stated in an email that was sent to POLITICO.
The suit refers to a string of allegations made by the Spanish newspaper “El Pais” that accused a security firm at the Ecuadorian embassy of providing the CIA with information about Assange’s visitors. The intel was reportedly gathered from hidden cameras and microphones, as well as from opening the visitors’ phones while they met with Assange.
“The suit accuses Pompeo of spearheading the effort, citing his record of public animosity towards WikiLeaks, the controversial group which anonymously obtains secrets from governments, militaries, banks, and political figures and publishes them online–often in raw form,” Politico stated.
BREAKING: Judge refuses US Gov Motion to Dismiss in ongoing New York case: Attorneys sue CIA and Mike Pompeo in Julian Assange surveillance case #FreeAssange #FreeAssangeNOW pic.twitter.com/SCJGW3tS1x
— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) December 19, 2023
Opinion over Assange’s deeds is split, with some accusing him of being a Russian operative and others hailing him for radical transparency and exposing corruption.
When Pompeo became the CIA director in 2017, he branded WikiLeaks a “hostile intelligence service” and targeted Assange.
“Assange, an Australian citizen, entered the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012 and was granted asylum while he was on bail pending efforts by the Swedish government to extradite him to face a rape charge,” Politico recounted.
“That investigation was dropped in 2017, but the US brought criminal charges against him the next year for allegedly conspiring to hack U.S. government computers and to disclose national security secrets,” the outlet reported.
Ecuador handed Assange over to UK officials in 2019. He has been in prison for the last four years and is still fighting extradition to the US. He is running out of time on that count and fast.
BREAKING: Julian Assange’s Final Appeal to be held in UK High Court 20-21 February 2024
Stella Assange: “A fair trial, let alone Julian’s safety on US soil, is an impossibility were he to be extradited. The persecution of this innocent journalist and publisher must end.” pic.twitter.com/GdUvnD6xPu
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) December 19, 2023
“WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s possible final legal challenge to block his extradition from Britain to the US to face charges for publishing classified US military documents will be held in February 2024 at the High Court in London,” Fox News reported.
“The upcoming hearing, scheduled for Feb. 20 and 21, will be held before two judges who will review an earlier High Court decision made by a single judge in June, when the Australian journalist was denied permission to appeal, according to a release from pro-Assange campaigners,” the news outlet added.
Assange, who is now 52 but looks considerably older, is facing 17 charges for allegedly “receiving, possessing and communicating classified information to the public under the Espionage Act, and one charge alleging a conspiracy to commit computer intrusion,” according to Fox News.
If Assange is extradited to the US and is convicted, he could get up to 175 years in an American maximum-security prison.