Politics

CIA planned to kidnap or assassinate Julian Assange, Yahoo report claims

The CIA reportedly had planned to kidnap Julian Assange, an Australian editor, publisher, and activist who founded WikiLeaks back in 2006. 

Under the Trump administration, the CIA actively developed plans to kidnap or assassinate Wikileaks founder Julian Assange during his seclusion in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, a new report from Yahoo News claims. Scenarios included abducting Assange from the embassy, intercepting a Russian effort to extract him, or simply assassinate him.

According to Yahoo News, CIA director Mike Pompeo considered WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service” in 2017 to make its employees and associates a legitimate target for CIA “offensive counterintelligence” activities. Pompeo then asked for plans to be drawn up for Assange’s kidnap or assassination [WSWS].

The CIA officials along with Pompeo tabled their intentions after being infuriated by WikiLeaks’ publication of ‘Vault 7’, a breach which is considered as the biggest data loss in history. ‘Vault 7’ is a series of documents detailing the activities and capabilities of the US intelligence agency CIA in relation to cyber warfare.

None of the operations were ever approved. As sources, Yahoo cites conversations with more than 30 former US officials. Among those, eight provided details on plans to kidnap Assange. However, the report is a stark contrast with President Trump’s statements on the campaign trail, where he often praised Assange and Wikileaks for their work [The Verge].

The counsel appearing on behalf of Assange in the recent extradition hearing told local media persons, “As an American citizen, I find it absolutely outrageous that our government would be contemplating kidnapping or assassinating somebody without any judicial process simply because Julian Assange had published truthful information.”

Pieter Omtzigt, an MP of the Netherlands, while addressing the Parliamentary Assembly expressed grave concern at the US’ consideration of ultra-judicial assassination and detention of whistleblowers. Additionally, the MP pointed out a resolution of the Assembly passed in 2020 which called for Assange’s extradition to the US to be barred and urged his prompt release from the asylum in the UK too.

The 50-year-old Australian editor has been under arrest since April 2019 when he finally left the Ecuadorian embassy he had occupied for years in the capital city of England. He had taken asylum in the Ecuador embassy to avoid extradition to Sweden in a 2010 rape case against him. He was later charged with rape, however the charges were dropped by Swedish prosecutors in 2019.

WikiLeaks hit the limelight after releasing a series of significant and inaccessible documents and caches. From equipment, arms in possession during the Afghanistan war, or the corruption investigation in Kenya to the operating procedures manual at the US-operated prisons in Guantanamo Bay, the non-profit organisation accessed and published reams of classified documents. Soon after the leaks of diplomatic cables began in 2010, the US had begun a criminal investigation into WikiLeaks [Republic World].

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: HINDUSTAN TIMES

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