A Yahoo News investigation, published on Sunday, exposes the CIA’s plans, along with senior officials in former US President Donald Trump’s administration, that involved kidnapping and even assassinating WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
According to the investigation, the plans date back to 2017, when Assange was taking refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. According to former officials of the US intelligence services, the CIA’s plan, then headed by Mike Pompeo, presupposed, in the first place, to kidnap Assange from the embassy.
The idea was “to break into the embassy, drag [Assange] out and take him wherever we want,” a former US intelligence official told Yahoo News.
The plan did not stop there, however. Some senior CIA and Trump administration officials even discussed Assange’s murder, “going so far as to request ‘sketches’ or ‘options’ on how to kill him,” the Yahoo News investigation reads.
A former counterintelligence official reveals that the discussions took place among “the highest echelons of the Trump administration” and adds: “There seemed to be no limits.”
A “complete obsession of Pompeo”
The plan against Assange mirrored a thirst for revenge on the part of Pompeo after the publication on WikiLeaks of several documents, known as “Vault 7”, which exposed a series of methods and procedures used by the US Central Intelligence Agency in its activities of espionage all over the world. The files have been described as “the biggest data leak in CIA history.”
Pompeo and other top agency leaders “were completely out of touch with reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7,” a former Trump national security official told Yahoo News. “They only saw blood in front of them”, he stresses.
A former Trump government official even said that “WikiLeaks was a complete obsession with Pompeo”. “After Vault 7, Pompeo and Gina Haspel [deputy director of the CIA] wanted revenge on Assange.”
The plan was challenged by several officials and some members of the National Security Council cast doubt on its legality. Some government officials have secretly contacted officials and members of the Senate intelligence committee to alert them to Mike Pompeo’s recent proposals.
Yahoo News was, therefore, unable to confirm whether the suggestions for extreme measures against Assange were ever approved by the White House. The CIA declined to comment and Mike Pompeo did not respond to Yahoo News’ requests for clarification.
In August, the US was given more time to argue for Assange’s extradition, after the British Supreme Court postponed until October the final decision on the extradition of WikiLeaks founder to the United States.
The judges gave American lawyers another month to present new arguments.
In January, the US lost one of the court battles in the Assange case after the Old Bailey Criminal Court (in London) rejected the WikiLeaks founder’s extradition request to the US. At the time, the decision was justified by the fragile state of mental health of Julian Assange, with the risk of suicide being pointed out. The Americans appealed to the British Supreme Court, which is expected to announce the decision only in October.
Julian Assange is charged by US justice with 18 crimes, including espionage, risking up to 175 years in prison if found guilty.
The Australian journalist and activist remain detained in the London high-security prison in Belmarsh (in the southeast of the British capital).
Source: with Agencies