A lawsuit filed on Monday claims the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and its former Director Mike Pompeo illegally spied on journalists, attorneys and other individuals who met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he stayed at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England.
Named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are journalists Charles Glass and John Goetz as well as attorneys Margaret Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek, who have previously represented Assange.
Richard Roth, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, told the press, “The United States Constitution shields American citizens from U.S. government overreach even when the activities take place in a foreign embassy in a foreign country.”
The suit explains, “Prior to their visits [with Assange] each visitor was required to surrender his or her electronic devices, e.g. smartphones, laptops etc. to employees of Defendant Undercover Global (UC Global).”
The private Spanish security company UC Global and its director David Morales are also named as defendants in the lawsuit.
Continuing, the plaintiffs claim UC Global copied the data on their devices without their consent or knowledge and without the approval of the Ecuadorian government.
After allegedly copying the data found on the electronics of the visitors, the court document says UC Global “provided that information to the Defendant United States Central Intelligence Agency (‘CIA’) then headed by Defendant Michael Pompeo.”
Other than journalists and Assange’s attorneys, the lawsuit notes the clandestine data-gathering violated the rights “of well over 100 American citizens who visited Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England during his sanctuary.”
Of course, the contents of the phones and laptops belonging to the WikiLeaks founder’s lawyers would naturally include confidential information that falls under attorney-client privilege.
In addition to collecting the data from the electronics of Assange visitors, UC Global allegedly planted listening devices in the embassy and sent the CIA audio recordings along with footage from embassy security cameras.
“Defendant Pompeo was aware of and approved the copying of information contained on plaintiffs’ mobile electronic devices and the surreptitious audio monitoring of their meetings with Assange,” the suit states.
Assange is currently facing extradition from the UK to the US, where he has been charged with violating the US Espionage Act for publishing documents and videos in 2010 related to misconduct during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.
Click the image below to read the full lawsuit as filed in the Southern District of New York.