Ecuador spent millions on spying in support of Julian Assange
The Ecuadorian government spent more than $5 million since 2012 for intelligence operations designed to support WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who took refuge in the London Ecuadoran embassy to avoid being returned to Sweden to face sexual assault charges.
The extensive intelligence operation by Ecuador included spying on visitors to the embassy and intercepting communications.
The agency used a "special expenses" budget to pay for CCTV cameras to be installed in the embassy weeks after Assange moved in.
At the same time, documents show an international security company was contracted to secretly film and monitor all activity in the embassy. The company installed a team who provided 24/7 security, with two people on shift at a time, based at a £2,800-a-month flat in an Edwardian mansion building round the corner from the Knightsbridge embassy. ...
The security personnel recorded in minute detail Assange's daily activities, and his interactions with embassy staff, his legal team and other visitors. They also documented his changing moods.
The team consulted Assange about each person seeking to visit him. Guests would pass through a security zone, leaving their passports with staff there, according to sources, and documents seen by the Guardian.
The passports were used to create a profile that described the visit and gave background details of all his visitors.
Worried that British authorities could use force to enter the embassy and seize Assange, Ecuadorian officials came up with plans to help him escape.
Why did Ecuador go to such lengths to protect and support Assange? Let's face it: Ecuador is not a country that comes immediately to mind when you think of major powers – even in South America. Assange gave Ecuador status in the international community and was a domestic political asset for the president, Correa.
Beyond that, Ecuador was protecting its sovereignty. The threat of British police storming the embassy to take Assange may not have been realistic, but Ecuador was taking no chances.
Assange's stay at the embassy grated over time:
In an extraordinary breach of diplomatic protocol, Assange managed to compromise the communications system within the embassy and had his own satellite internet access, according to documents and a source who wished to remain anonymous. By penetrating the embassy's firewall, Assange was able to access and intercept the official and personal communications of staff, the source claimed.
In tweets on Tuesday WikiLeaks denied that Assange had compromised the embassy's network. "That's an anonymous libel aligned with the current UK-US government onslaught against Mr Assange," WikiLeaks wrote, adding that its editor-in-chief was not in a position to respond.
If Assange were ever kicked out by the Ecuadoran government, the sexual assault charges in Sweden would be the least of his worries. He has been under investigation by the U.S. government for the WikiLeaks publication of sensitive military documents stolen by Pvt. Bradley Manning. No doubt, the U.S. government would love to get its hands on him to ask him about the WikiLeaks exposure of Hillary Clinton's emails as well.
Assange has been lionized for publishing government secrets. His activities would be more meaningful if he published as many secrets from other nations as he has from the U.S. Whether he's a Russian stooge and Putin puppet has not been confirmed. But surely, an awful lot of his leaks make the U.S. look very bad, and there have been no corresponding national security leaks involving Russia.
At the very least, this raises suspicions about Assange's motives.