LONDON – The Spanish security firm hired to guard the Ecuadorian Embassy in London during Julian Assange’s stay there gathered information on his Russian and American visitors and handed it to US intelligence, according to a new report.
David Morales, the owner of security contracting firm Undercover Global SL, allegedly ordered his employees to keep extensive records on anybody coming to meet with Assange during his nearly seven-year residency at the diplomatic compound, Spanish newspaper El Pais reported.
Former employees at the firm told El Pais the CIA was also granted access to a web server where those records were stored, which included “profiles” containing all manner of personal information on the individuals. American and Russian visitors were reportedly given the highest priority, especially lawyers and those working in media.
All guests were required to hand over phones and computers to embassy security before entering the compound, potentially giving Undercover Global – and, in turn, US intelligence – access to any files stored on the devices.
Interest in Assange’s meetings with Russians may have been piqued by the US Department of Justice (DOJ), which accused the cyber activist of cooperating with Russian intelligence to leak Hillary Clinton’s emails, among other pilfered documents, prior to the 2016 US election – a claim Assange has fervently denied and which the DOJ has never backed up with evidence.
Morales also allegedly provided US intelligence with audio and video of meetings between Assange and his staff, lawyers and other associates, El Pais reported previously. A Spanish high court has launched a probe into the matter following the newspaper’s revelations.
Assange was arrested in April, after Ecuador rescinded his asylum status and allowed British police to remove him from the embassy on charges related to a skipped 2012 bail hearing. The activist sought refuge in the embassy nearly seven years prior, fearing he would be ultimately extradited to the United States and tried for his role in publishing classified material, including leaks revealing the scale of the US’s secret lethal drone program, among other things.