from the payback dept.
The Ecuadorean government spent around $5 million to protect and spy on Julian Assange and his visitors, according to The Guardian. The operation evolved over time as the embassy's guest became less welcome:
Over more than five years, Ecuador put at least $5m (£3.7m) into a secret intelligence budget that protected the WikiLeaks founder while he had visits from Nigel Farage, members of European nationalist groups and individuals linked to the Kremlin. [...] Documents show the intelligence programme, called "Operation Guest", which later became known as "Operation Hotel" – coupled with parallel covert actions – ran up an average cost of at least $66,000 a month for security, intelligence gathering and counter-intelligence to "protect" one of the world's most high-profile fugitives. [...] 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.
[...] Worried that British authorities could use force to enter the embassy and seize Assange, Ecuadorian officials came up with plans to help him escape. They included smuggling Assange out in a diplomatic vehicle or appointing him as Ecuador's United Nations representative so he could have diplomatic immunity in order to attend UN meetings, according to documents seen by the Guardian dated August 2012. In addition to giving Assange asylum, Correa's government was apparently prepared to spend money on improving his image. A lawyer was asked to devise a "media strategy" to mark the "second anniversary of his diplomatic asylum", in a leaked 2014 email exchange seen by the Guardian.
The money being spent was unknown to some members of the government, including the Ecuadorian ambassador to the UK, who learned of the operation in 2015. Ecuador's financial controller's office also investigated payments related to the operation.
Additionally, The Guardian alleges that Assange hacked the embassy's security system to spy on staff, and was able to procure his own satellite Internet connection:
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.
Another detail is that Ecuador's intelligence agency made payments to Hacking Team for surveillance software (not necessarily related to the Assange operation). Hacking Team is a cybersecurity company that was hacked in 2015. Wikileaks began hosting a million emails leaked from the company on July 8, 2015.
- Assange 'split' Ecuador and Spain over Catalan independence
- Ecuador's Ex-President Rafael Correa Denounces Treatment of Julian Assange as "Torture"
- Julian Assange said to have racked up $5m security bill for Ecuador
Multiple sources reporting:
Wikileaks has announced that Julian Assange's internet access had been intentionally severed by a state actor. I would assume this means they disrupted a VPN connection he had rather than just cutting all internet access to the Ecuadorian Embassy, but again details are limited.
The announcement of disruption was also preceded by multiple strange tweets of random numbers (likely crypto keys) that appear to be part of a dead man system activated by the disruption.
takyon: The full tweet states "Julian Assange's internet link has been intentionally severed by a state party. We have activated the appropriate contingency plans." Wikileaks recently released Part 9 of the Podesta Emails. Also at CNET and Ars Technica.
Update: Wikileaks says: "We can confirm Ecuador cut off Assange's internet access Saturday, 5pm GMT, shortly after publication of Clinton's Goldman Sachs speechs."
Perhaps the embassy's perennial guest has finally overstayed his welcome?
Over the weekend, dozens of public figures, including prominent whistleblowers and journalists, took part in a 36-hour international online vigil in defence of WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange. The event was the third "Unity4J" vigil organised by independent journalist and New Zealand Internet Party leader, Suzie Dawson, since Assange's communications were cut-off by Ecuadorian authorities at their London embassy last March.
[...] Daniel Ellsberg, whose release of the Pentagon Papers in 1971 exposed the extent of US criminality in Vietnam, drew a parallel between his own activities and those of WikiLeaks. Referring to WikiLeaks' 2010 publication of US war logs in Iraq and Afghanistan, he stated: "I really waited almost 40 years, after the Pentagon Papers had come out, for someone to do what I had done."
Ellsberg pointed to similarities between the attacks that had been levelled against him, and the persecution of Assange. "I was charged with 12 felony counts, a possible 150 years in prison. Nixon had in mind for me what Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama have had in mind for Julian Assange," he said.
Related: FBI Whistleblower on Pierre Omidyar and His Campaign to Neuter Wikileaks
Julian Assange has His Internet Access Cut Off by Ecuador
Ecuador Spent $5 Million Protecting and Spying on Julian Assange
Julian Assange announced on Friday that he was suing the Ecuadorean government for "violating his fundamental rights," claiming that his longtime hosts at the country's embassy in London are limiting his contact with the outside world and censoring his speech.
His legal team in the matter, led by the former Spanish judge Baltasar Garzón, revealed the suit at a news conference in Quito, where the lawsuit was filed. The action aims to prevent strict new rules governing Mr. Assange's visitors and online activity from taking effect.
The policies were laid out in a nine-page memo that was published by a news site this month. (They include directives to clean his bathroom and look after his cat.)
Clean up your room and brush your teeth before you go to bed.
Previously: Julian Assange has His Internet Access Cut Off by Ecuador
Ecuador Spent $5 Million Protecting and Spying on Julian Assange
Ecuador Reportedly Almost Ready to Hand Julian Assange Over to UK Authorities
Associated Press Publishes Supposedly Leaked WikiLeaks Documents
The Guardian: Russian Diplomats Planned to Sneak Julian Assange Out of the UK