Spanish court summons Pompeo over rendition and assassination plot against Assange

The summons was served as per the petition filed by a lawyer representing Julian Assange in the Spanish court. This is as part of the ongoing case against private security firm UC Global for illegally spying on Assange while he was held in the Ecuadorian embassy in London

June 07, 2022 by Peoples Dispatch
Spanish court summons Pompeo
Mike Pompeo. (Photo: John Raoux/AP)

As Julian Assange awaits a decision on his extradition to the United States, former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has been summoned by a Spanish court to testify. The summons was issued on Friday, June 3 by Judge Santiago Pedraz of the Audiencia Nacional, the national court of Spain.

The summons was served as per the petition filed by Aitor Martinez, one of the lawyers representing Assange in the Spanish court, as part of the ongoing case against private security firm UC Global for illegally spying on Assange while he was held in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Martinez had previously argued that the spying “would have been orchestrated from the United States.”

Judge Pedraz also summoned former US counterintelligence official William Evanina, who had previously confessed in letters seen by the Audiencia Nacional to have accessed video footage and audio recording of Assange from inside the embassy. Both Pompeo and Evanina are expected to testify later this month.

The illegal spying on Assange was first reported by WikiLeaks in April 2019 and was later confirmed when the Audiencia Nacional carried out a secret investigation prompted by a complaint by Assange himself. The investigation was reported by Spanish newspaper El Pais.

According to testimonies from UC Global whistleblowers and its director David Morales, the surveillance operation on Assange was undertaken since at least the mid-2017, around the time when the alleged discussions to rendition and/or assassinate Assange were being held.

Pompeo, who served under the Donald Trump administration, has been called to testify on the claims that US intelligence discussed rendition and assassination of Assange as revealed in an investigative report published by Yahoo News in 2021.

Read | Report reveals CIA debated possible kidnapping and assassination of Assange

The report – based on interviews with over 30 former US intelligence and national security officers – showed that the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had discussed plans to silence Assange, in retaliation to the publication of the Vault 7 files by WikiLeaks in March 2017.

The release of the files exposed dozens of CIA’s sophisticated hacking tools and malware that could compromise or hack into a wide range of operating systems. Pompeo served as the CIA’s director during that time, before he was appointed as the Secretary of State during the Trump presidency.

According to the report, discussions were held at the “highest levels” of the CIA and the Trump administration. Pompeo allegedly pitched plans for a rendition in the UK, while the president’s office at the time asked for “options” and “sketches” to assassinate Assange.

Responding to the claims made in the report, both Trump and Pompeo denied the allegations raised. However, Pompeo admitted on record that “pieces of it are true,” without clarifying which parts precisely.

The Yahoo News report was a major revelation as Assange was fighting a judicial battle against his extradition in the UK. Assange’s supporters and his family have since raised grave concerns over the looming extradition, with his wife Stella repeatedly pointing out that the UK would be handing him over to the same establishment that plotted to assassinate him.

Despite these concerns, the UK High Court in London overturned a lower court ruling against the extradition in December 2021, while the Supreme Court denied Assange’s appeal, effectively paving the way for his extradition.

Currently, Assange is being held under judicial remand in the high-security Belmarsh prison in the UK while a final decision on his extradition from the UK Home Office is pending. UK Home Secretary Priti Patel of the Conservative Party government led by Boris Johnson has to make the decision over the extradition order issued by the courts.

Read | Julian Assange case: 4 things that the media doesn’t tell you