WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange took full advantage of his protected status in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, likely using the diplomatic post where he lived for seven years as a command center to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, surveillance reports from a Spanish security firm allegedly show.
The reports, based on surveillance by UC Global, hired by the Ecuadorian Embassy, show that Assange met with hackers and Russians during his stay at the embassy, according to CNN, which viewed the documents and received confirmation of their authenticity from a member of the Ecuadorian intelligence community.
The WikiLeaks founder was particularly busy in June 2016 when he hosted 75 visits, including a hacker and RT London Bureau Chief Nikolay Bogachikhin, who passed him a USB drive, the surveillance reports show. That was the same month that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) revealed it had been hacked and that Assange announced he would began releasing emails and documents nicked from Democrats by Russian hackers and damaging to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
After a tumultuous seven years holed up in the London embassy Assange was arrested in April on behalf of the U.S. on conspiracy to conduct computer intrusion on the United States.
U.K. special police entered the embassy and forcibly removed a bedraggled Assange, who shouted and resisted as he was dragged into a waiting van.
The U.S. had wanted to get to Assange for a decade since WikiLeaks published classified documents nicked by Chelsea Manning when she was a private in the Army. In May Assange was indicted Tuesday on 17 counts of violating the rarely invoked Espionage Act for the 2010 procurement and publication of classified documents stolen by Manning.
While Assange has yet to draw charges for 2016 election interference, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s sprawling 448-page, partially redacted report methodically laid out Russia’s efforts to sway the 2016 election toward President Trump and revealed a web of connections between some of his cohorts, a Russia-affiliated cast of characters and WikiLeaks.
Trump friend and adviser Roger Stone now awaits trial on charges stemming from Mueller’s probe. Stone bragged openly about his contacts with WikiLeaks and with Russian hacker Guccifer 2.0, a persona fronting for the GRU. The president’s son, Donald Trump, Jr., had numerous contacts with WikiLeaks, at least twice publishing links to information at the organization’s request and inquiring about a reported upcoming leak. Former Trump Campaign Deputy Manager Rick Gates, who has been indicted and is cooperating with investigators, said Trump claimed “more releases of damaging information would be coming.”
The UC Global surveillance documents reveal Assange received new computer equipment able to accommodate data transfers prior to receiving the documents the Russians hacked from the Democrats.
Assange is currently being held in the U.K. and is fighting extradition to the U.S.