The CIA used Spanish private security firm UC Global to secretly install microphones in the Ecuadorian embassy in London to monitor WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, El País reported Wednesday, citing internal communications of the company
UC Global was hired to provide security for the embassy. Assange, who was granted asylum by Ecuador at the time, resided at the diplomatic compound from 2012 to 2019. The Spanish company’s alleged links to US intelligence agencies were first reported by The Country in 2019.
According to the newspaper, UC Global founder and chief David Morales first came into contact with the CIA in 2017. Around that time, Morales informed his employees that the company would have to provide a new client American named ‘X’ with remote access to the server that collected the data from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which was known as “Hotel”.
“In relation to the hotel work, I would like to offer our information gathering and analysis capability to the American customer,” Morales wrote in a September 2017 email. “We should try to make it attractive and easy to interpret”.
The information shared reportedly included profiles of Assange’s visitors, including lawyers and diplomats, as well as mobile phone data. Morales said in a chat message that “the people in control are our friends in the US.”
One of the microphones that Morales’ team secretly planted in the embassy was hidden in the base of a fire extinguisher to listen in on despite Assange’s habit of using a white noise machine to avoid surveillance, said El País. Stickers were placed on the corners of the windows to prevent vibrations and allow sound to be recorded using laser microphones. “I know that it is of the highest interest and that the US wants to do it,” Morales reportedly wrote to his employees.
According to El País, UC Global’s work helped Washington thwart a plan to remove Assange from the embassy in December 2017. Lenin Moreno, president of Ecuador at the time, allegedly wanted to grant Ecuadorian citizenship to the co-founder of WikiLeaks and get him out of Britain. in a diplomatic car.
Morales’ team reportedly recorded a conversation between Assange and Ecuadorian officials and then quickly sent it to the US. Washington responded by issuing a warrant for Assange’s arrest in the UK, which apparently prompted organizers to abort the plan.
In 2019, Spanish authorities launched an investigation into Morales’ company and briefly detained him. He has since been released on bail.