A report published on Friday by Yahoo News reveals how the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) of Donald Trump’s presidency plotted to kidnap and potentially assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The report details the ways in which the CIA conceived of ways in which they could kidnap and assassinate Assange and how the agency conducted research as to whether or not such an operation would be legal. The plan was supposedly headed by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who sources say was enraged after WikiLeaks had released files from the CIA’s hacking project, Vault 7, in 2017.
Assange was staying at the Ecuadorian embassy in London at the time, where he had been staying since 2012 and left in 2019 when he was transferred to the Belmarsh prison.
After releasing the files from Vault 7, Assange published an op-ed, justifying the leak as an act necessary for keeping a democratic government in check:
“On his last night in office, President Dwight D. Eisenhower delivered a powerful farewell speech to the nation — words so important that he’d spent a year and a half preparing them,” wrote Assange.
“‘Ike’ famously warned the nation to ‘guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.’
“Much of Eisenhower’s speech could form part of the mission statement of WikiLeaks today. We publish truths regarding overreaches and abuses conducted in secret by the powerful.
“Our most recent disclosures describe the CIA’s multibillion-dollar cyberwarfare program, in which the agency created dangerous cyberweapons, targeted private companies’ consumer products and then lost control of its cyber-arsenal. Our source(s) said they hoped to initiate a principled public debate about the “security, creation, use, proliferation and democratic control of cyberweapons.”
Only two days after Assange’s piece was published, Pompeo spoke out against the leak in a speech given at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:
“WikiLeaks walks like a hostile intelligence service and talks like a hostile intelligence service and has encouraged its followers to find jobs at the CIA in order to obtain intelligence.”
The CIA and Pompeo considered the leak serious enough to consider “taking out” Assange completely. But the plot was later scrapped before it could escalate.
Julian Assange has been held in Belmarsh prison since 2019
Assange is currently in a London prison fighting a U.S. extradition attempt. British courts blocked the effort in January of 2021, but the U.S. has appealed. The High Court is scheduled to conduct a full appeal hearing on October 27th.
Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that, due to Assange’s present mental health, extradition to the United States and subsequent legal proceedings there would be “oppressive.”
She wrote in the ruling that: “The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man, who is genuinely fearful about his future. For all of these reasons I find that Mr. Assange’s risk of committing suicide, if an extradition order were to be made, to be substantial.”