Martin Robinson | The Daily Mail | Source URL
US spies hatched a plot to kidnap or even poison Julian Assange using shady Spanish private detectives after he leaked 250,000 top secret documents online, his extradition hearing was told yesterday.
The WikiLeaks founder's human rights barrister Edward Fitzgerald, who has previously represented Moors Murderer Myra Hindley and hate preacher Abu Hamza, said an attack inside London's Ecuadorean embassy would have looked like an 'accident'.
The QC said private security from a Spanish company, acting on behalf of the US authorities, were involved in 'intrusive and sophisticated' surveillance of his client, but were outed by a mysterious Iberian whistleblower known only as 'witness two'.
The covert monitoring allegedly began after UC Global's David Morales returned from a Las Vegas security trade fair in around July 2016 with a contract purportedly for a yacht belonging to Sheldon Adelson, a financial backer of Donald Trump.
'But in fact, Mr Morales had indeed made a side agreement to provide information gathered about Mr Assange to the dark side - in other words, US intelligence agencies,' said Mr Fitzgerald.
Visitors, including lawyers for the 48-year-old, who is facing extradition to America, are said to have been targeted by live-stream audio and video devices placed inside the embassy and laser microphones from outside.
Referring to witness two's evidence, Mr Fitzgerald said: 'There were conversations about whether there should be more extreme measures contemplated, such as kidnapping or poisoning Julian Assange in the embassy.'
Reading from a witness statement, Mr Fitzgerald continued: 'David (Morales) said the Americans were desperate and had even suggested more extreme measures could be applied against the guest to put an end to the situation.'
He said there was a suggestion the embassy door could be left open to make a kidnapping look like it could have been 'an accident', adding 'even the possibility of poisoning had been discussed'.
The extraordinary claims were made on the first day of Assange's extraordinary British legal face-off with Donald Trump's Government, which continues at Belmarsh Magistrates' Court today.
Assange, who is being held in Belmarsh Prison after being dragged from the Ecuadorian embassy last year, appeared in the dock at the London court next door yesterday.
He is battling to avoid extradition to Virginia where he faces 18 charges and a jail term of up to 175 years for leaking state secrets in 250,000 classified documents published by WikiLeaks online in 2010.
But Assange's QC Edward Fitzgerald said extradition to an American prison extradition would be the 'height of inhumanity', exposing him to inhumane conditions in an American prison, leading to a high risk of suicide.
James Lewis QC, representing the US Government, said Assange had conspired with former US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning to hack Department of Defense computers and share its secrets.
Mr Lewis said documents that could only have been taken from WikiLeaks were found in Osama Bin Laden's Pakistani compound after US Navy SEALs raided it and shot him dead in 2011. This, argued Mr Lewis, is clear evidence that the information from the leaks was 'useful to the enemies of the United States of America'.
The British QC added: 'The US is aware of sources, whose redacted names and other identifying information was contained in classified documents published by WikiLeaks, who subsequently disappeared'.
Mr Fitzgerald outlined the 48-year-old's defence claiming he is an innocent man whose extradition is 'politically-motivated' by the Trump administration who want his 'head on a pike' to scare off potential leakers and whistleblowers.