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Julian Assange and visitors were spied on by security firm for US intelligence (repubblica.it)
238 points by abeld 15 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 131 comments

To the people who say "of course":

> The Spanish lawyer Aitor Martinez, one of the lawyers in Julian Assange's legal team filmed by UC Global, tells Repubblica: "Over the years Mr. Assange and his defense team held legal meetings inside the embassy. Those meetings were protected by the lawyer-client relationship and the fundamental right to defense.

What about this fundamental right?

> However we can see those meetings were spied on, according to the videos published by different media. Under these conditions, it is clear that extradition must be denied. We hope that British justice understands the scope of what has happened and denies extradition as soon as possible".

Interesting take, if this would become the end result for this very reason someone shot themselves in the foot.

The right to attorney-client confidentiality does not apply in the context of national security intelligence gathering. The United States was within its rights to gather intelligence about a foreign person in a foreign country.

Such intelligence would be absolutely inadmissible in court. But intelligence agencies aren't interested in prosecuting people. They are tasked with national security, not prosecution.

Spying, by it very definition, is an illegal act.

It might've been legal(i doubt it) to spy on foreign person on foreign soil inside (another) foreign embassy according to US law... but that doesn't matter at all when it comes to both Ecuadorean law and UK law.

USA is not a world police, nor is ultimate force of good that all good counters bow to.

This can't be overstressed. Spies are, by the nature of their work, criminals. Even if their presence and activities are known by friendly countries (e.g. CIA operating in UK), they are usually operating outside the host countries legal system.

This is why rule #1 of spying is: don't get caught.

This doesn't make sense to me, please educate me as to what I am missing. Why is the United States within its rights to gather intelligence within the Ecuadorian Embassy within England? It seems like embassies of foreign countries, not located within the US's borders means that the US government has no legal rights to any of that. To me it looks like the US violated the rights of not just Ecuador's sovereignty, but also Great Brittan's.

Yes, it's a violation of sovereignty. It's probably illegal under those countries' laws. But it's legal for the US government to do abroad, and breaking other countries' laws and sovereignty to obtain intelligence is more or less the entire job of our intelligence agencies. This is the job of every foreign intelligence agency. Otherwise they'd just be investigative journalists.

Friendly countries spying on each other is super common. The US bugged Angela Merkle's cell phone! We do this. Everyone knows we do. They live with it, because they spy on us, too.

For good and ill, this sort of thing has been considered playing by the rules for decades. You can compare the response to the Russia assassination campaigns on British soil, which (when too public to ignore) created a big public response because that sort of thing was considered out of bounds previously. And the response to American kidnap-and-torture plots in Europe.

That's not to say we don't catch, try, imprison, and deport spies in the US and other countries do the same against us. But this is all part of a decades-long iterated prisoner's dilemma about what the "rules" are in international espionage.

That spying is the status quo is not really the concern of a UK court. In this case, the court does not care about whether or not agents in the UK were breaking US law, or even if there is some treaty between friendly nations to give them immunity. Well they may care, but this is a separate matter.

The court is faced with an extradition request, which will hinge on questions such as: are the charges well laid out and supported? will the defendant get a fair trial? and does this fit within our extradition treaty?

That second point - getting a fair trial - is heavily undermined if there is evidence the US government has privileged information that came from spying.

The overwhelming German public response to Merkel's bugging was one of outrage. Accepting your argument, doesn't that suggest it was actually out of bounds and not normal?

A quick google search turns up this article[1].

> The German intelligence agency used the selectors to surveil telephone and fax numbers as well as email accounts belonging to American companies like Lockheed Martin, the space agency NASA, the organization Human Rights Watch, universities in several U.S. states and military facilities like the U.S. Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Defense Intelligence Agency, the secret service agency belonging to the American armed forces. Connection data from far over 100 foreign embassies in Washington, from institutions like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Washington office of the Arab League were also accessed by the BND's spies.

[1] https://m.spiegel.de/international/germany/german-intelligen...

That outrage is pretty rich, since Germany spies flagrantly on other nations, including their embassies, as well.

Most Germans wouldn't really believe that they do, not because our services wouldn't do it on principle, but because unlike in America, we usually think of our intelligence services as bumbling idiots that fail at spying.

In reality they seem to be somewhat competent at some things, and reports that they do indeed successfully surveil foreign embassies seem to be true.

The only part that wasn’t normal was it becoming a publicized story. What do you think intelligence agencies normally do, ask politely for confidential information?

You’re right: for the German public foreign intelligence gather is out or bounds and not normal.

Context matters.

Curious what you think intelligence agencies actually do.

Do you think the US/Israel respected Iranian law when they infiltrated nuclear facilities ? How about all of the Russian poisoning in the UK ? And I don't believe all of the various drones are qualified to operate in their respective airspaces.

Spying on foreign people in foreign countries is pretty much every intelligence agency's raison d'etre

Yes, and part of the game is if you get caught you get into serious trouble. Ignoring it is a complete wrong approach.

Assassinating political dissidents is also part of that game, so shouldn't we be angry at Russia? They just did their job, did they?

> Yes, and part of the game is if you get caught you get into serious trouble.

Only if there are consequences. If you get caught killing another country's spies or otherwise behaving badly, they may retaliate and kill yours. They may invoke treaties or launch ICJ cases. If they have leverage, they may use it.

Ecuador has no leverage.

> Assassinating political dissidents is also part of that game, so shouldn't we be angry at Russia?

They were Russian agents killing Russians defectors. That's an egregious violation, but they were ultimately taking care of their own. Wanna be a dissident, fine -- play dangerous games, win dangerous prizes. These killing also got a lot of attention because 1) they involved polonium / radiation poisoning, which is a particularly ruthless way of killing someone, and 2) they were in the western media.

All of the people the CIA or MI6 had shot in response didn't get any airtime...

> They just did their job, did they?

Moral arguments notwithstanding, this is just another day in the spy game. I would take years of cloak and dagger casualties over another Iraq, or Vietnam, or a World War. Geopolitics gonna geopoltic.

Then we must do something wrong, since we seem to get both.

I don't know how many people the CIA and MI6 kills, but I am very certain that it is the end of a career of a spy if caught with extrajudicial killings. Even in Russia. Otherwise you quickly have imitators.

But why waste our time with a story then?

Basically, people have rights only insofar as governments consider that a convenient arrangement.

Your rights are within the context of a society you live in.

People in different countries have different rights. And governments can usurp those rights as needed e.g. jail you, kill you.

Or in other words, rights only exist when both parties have a similar level of power.

Maybe U.K.'s citizens have a right to be free from trespass, but extending that right to governments is a bit of an extrapolation.

>The United States was within its rights to gather intelligence about a foreign person in a foreign country.

According to whom ? US law makers ? I'm quite certain no sovereign nation aknowledges the "right" of anyone else to gather intelligence as they please on their premises.

The problem is parallel construction, the prosecution will use the evidence to build a case then claim they found the information elsewhere.

What? A country has a "right" to spy on a foreigner in a foreign country??

So I guess Russia has every right to spy on americans, right?

Within its rights? This is just completely false. Incredible reasoning...

Australia bugged the East Timorese government during treaty negotiations concerning a major oil & gas field. Eventually an Asis agent blew the whistle. He and his lawyer are now facing lengthy jail terms: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2019/aug/10/witne...

This shouldn't have happened. We need international law with some teeth, and better norms for behaviour on the international stage. I absolutely agree that we shouldn't concede to 'of course'.

I too am curious about the legal issues involved here. While I agree "this is what intelligence services are for", this was not inside the United States and the CIA doesn't automatically get free pass to break the laws of other countries.

Surely some laws in the UK were broken? Or was all this sanctioned by the UK government? Or does the fact that it's an embassy mean that Ecuadorian law is applicable? How does this all work?

Much of what intelligence services do is a violation of local laws. Those other countries are free (and often do) prosecute any responsible agents of other countries for breaking their laws on their soil if they want to.

They can convict them for these crimes, but if they didn't manage to catch them before they return home, then they are unlikely to ever be extradited. This can also have diplomatic consequences, affecting the attitude for future treaty negotiations.

But in general, practical international law doesn't prohibit anything that the major countries want to do - the sovereign countries have voluntarily ceded some rights in treaties e.g. for borders and trade disputes, but they definitely retain their sovereign right to (for example) consider the government of another country as illegitimate and irrelevant, revoke their peace/border treaties (if any) and send in a million armed men to do things that violate local law.

UK law is binding to USA agencies only to the extent to which (a) USA agencies choose to follow it (by order of their own government and their own laws) and/or (b) UK is practically able and willing to enforce it.

IANAL, but aside from local laws, aren't there international laws or treaties that's supposed to stop countries from spying on each other's embassies?

Treaties on embassies are generally concerned with the relationship between the host nation and the embassies that they invite - and any consequences (other than reputation) are generally bilateral; if you violate embassies, then the other party withdraws their embassy, if your embassy acts badly, then the embassy gets expelled.

And even in that case it's kind of common, well accepted practice to use embassies for spying on the host country. There are boundaries on what's acceptable (violations of which will have a diplomatic response or expelling all the involved and perhaps some random personnel), but nobody's really shocked if they happen to find that half of embassy stuff are there mostly for espionage tasks.

"International law" is not really equivalent in practice to ordinary law (which generally has the state monopoly on violence backing and enforcing it), it's more like countries have voluntarily agreed that it seems best that they should follow a particular set of practices. But they aren't required to - the main driver is that if you violate some norms, then others are likely to violate these norms against you. A treaty doesn't stop a country from doing something, a treaty is an indication that the involved countries believe that it's in their best interest if they all avoid doing that... but they'll be able to withdraw from that treaty (either legally, or in practice by simply doing the 'prohibited' thing) whenever they think it's best.

> ... to use embassies for spying on the host country.

And vice versa! There are a lot of great Cold War stories about the bugging of embassies.

> Surely some laws in the UK were broken?

The surveillance in the embassy is in clear contravention of the Vienna Convention that the UK ratified on one proviso: that the surveillance wasn't sanctioned by the Ecuadoreans. If they did sanction it, it's not clear what, if any, law was broken.

The article states that there's evidence that the US also had laser surveillance outside the embassy. This would definitely be in direct contravention of the Convention regardless of whether the UK sanctioned it or not. I would say though that this appears completely at odds with the whole of the rest of the article: why bother when you're recording everything from the inside?

They might not have happened at the same time.

The article says that it's US Global's worker who make the claim. So, at the very least, they're contemporaneous.

You got it backwards, the CIA cannot lawfully operate within the United States, they however can operate lawfully within any foreign territory.

Their mandate is based on US law not whichever country they operate in, if they are caught they will be charged with espionage.

There is no such thing as a legal CIA operation, it might get permission from the host nation to operate but it doesn't make it a legal act in the nation in question.

If MI6/5 whoever gives the CIA permission to rendition or even assassinate a target from the UK that doesn't mean it's legal according to UK law.

Intelligence agencies operate in grey areas where there is an agreement in place as long as no one gets caught and most things are either kept so secret that no one would ever get to them or there is simply no paper trail at all.

The UK knows very well who is that CIA station chief in London despite them being there under false pretences which is a violation of UK laws, same goes for most of the CIA / any other TLA agency staff operating in a diplomatic mission under cover.

They all get some US State Department BS title and assignment and diplomatic papers but in reality they aren't diplomats and any competent nation knows all if not the majority of the TLA staff stationed in the US missions operating within it's borders.

> Surely some laws in the UK were broken?

This was almost certainly done by American embassy staff under cover. It’s thus a state, not criminal, issue. If Britain wanted to eject American diplomats for spying, it could do that, but...why?

It's still a criminal issue under UK law, in that the law was broken. Obviously, diplomatic staff cannot be prosecuted but that does not negate the fact the law was broken.

The CIA is a highly secretive agency staffed by people who are liars in their professional and probably personal lives. The people who have a deep and profound respect for as-written law don't sign up to be professional snoops who occasionally topple governments.

Which laws in foreign countries do you expect them to be respectful of? And why? The organisation will have a high concentration of people who simply don't care what is written in the official law books and are only interested in what is physically enforced.

It seems very unlikely that one Fiveyes member was spying on another without local intelligence knowing.

I think it's worth remembering that this nation (the US) is currently trying to get Assange extradited. Part of the decision to be made in the UK should be wether or not the US will grant him a fair trial.

There are many reasons to throw that US demand out of the court, but this adds one more: they clearly have zero regard for any of his most inalienable rights. They have repeatedly violated them already, all the while trying (sadly successfully) a complete character assassination.

IMHO, if anything, the people responsible for this should be extradited to an international court.

If the CIA collected information in Mexico on the head of a drug cartel, does that automatically mean that he would not receive a fair trial? Of course not.

Assange worked with Russian intelligence, either knowingly or as a useful idiot. The US Intelligence agencies had an obligation to determine what sensitive information he held and what he might be trying to do with it.

>If the CIA collected information in Mexico on the head of a drug cartel, does that automatically mean that he would not receive a fair trial?

It means exactly that.

Still no retraction from The Guardian who baselessly claimed he met with Paul Manafort multiple times in the Ecuardian embassy. They straight up lied about it and there are no consequences.

Was the >$16,000/day spent by the London Metro Police not enough?



heres the thing I seriously want to know more about. The white noise generator was circumvented with "a technical solution provided by the Americans themselves."

What technical solution could circumvent white noise??

If it's a single channel white noise generator, then a coherent two-channel microphone setup (using hidden bugs or laser microphones) would already be sufficient to perform source-separation [1] between a single speaker and the white noise. I guess this is why you usually use multi-channel white noise generators, e.g. [2].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_separation

[2] https://www.spygadgets.com/white-noise-generator-with-6-tran...

Of course they were. Julian Assange's explicit mission was to expose US (and other) intelligence secrets. If they weren't spying on him and his visitors they'd be derelict in their most basic of duties.

I don't even know why this is a story. I don't mind Assange, and I think the counterpoint he created to state power was good, but the idea that the state shouldn't spy on him in turn is ludicrous.

Every time news comes out, people say "this was obvious from the start," but every time a suggestion is made before the news has come out people say "that's crazy there is no evidence." It was not the case that he was "of course" being spied on, it was plausible that he was being spied on.

In October 2010, the day after WikiLeaks published the Iraq War Logs, the New York Times ran a front-page article that essentially painted Assange as paranoid.[1] Here's the opening:

> Julian Assange moves like a hunted man. In a noisy Ethiopian restaurant in London's rundown Paddington district, he pitches his voice barely above a whisper to foil the Western intelligence agencies he fears.

> He demands that his dwindling number of loyalists use expensive encrypted cellphones and swaps his own as other men change shirts. He checks into hotels under false names, dyes his hair, sleeps on sofas and floors, and uses cash instead of credit cards, often borrowed from friends.

This was the Times' lead article on the person who had just provided them with one of the biggest scoops in the history of the paper.

1. https://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/world/24assange.html

Wikileaks schooled the entire western world mainstream media by releasing more material than they ever could hope.

I love the NYTimes, I consider them the best there is, but when it comes to US national matters or a specific Wall Street breed of Democrats, they are just as ridiculous as Fox News :-)

Have you ever read NYTimes coverage on a matter where you were personally an expert?

In those cases I personally found their coverage ranged from meh and mildly misleading to extremely poor and outright the opposite of the truth.

Most other big name venues appear to do better.

Hm, interesting. Can you share specific examples? I reckon that they suffer heavily in the topics I mentioned before for obvious reasons.

You honestly think if someone had made a comment "the US is spying on Assange directly or through intermediaries" someone would have said they were crazy and there was no evidence of that?

Apparently even his lawyers, from TFA:

"It was Julian Assange who suggested holding the legal meetings inside the women's toilet due to his suspicion of being under intense surveillance. Lawyers had considered it paranoid on Assange's part, and UC Global had reassured them on this count, but in reality microphones had even been placed inside the women's toilet."

If so someone should easily be able to provide a few links to historical comments saying that.

You would have been attacked and called a conspiracy theorist, putin troll, chinese bot, among other things by journalists, think tank workers and depending on the time - by republican supporters and democrat supporters.

Governments spy on a wide range of people, it would be illogical to call someone a conspiracy theorist for asserting that the US was spying on Assange and lends doubt to your claim that most would be rebuked as such based on that alone.

In contrast, evidence that the US Intelligence agencies actually framed Assange for rape would be much more newsworthy.

Using that reasoning, there was no story when Klaus Fuchs was caught spying on the Manhattan Project for the Soviet Union: Of course the Soviet Union intelligence were spying on the Manhattan Project, if they weren't spying on it they'de be derelict in their most basic of duties.

I mean, the story was that the Soviet Union was spying on its allies. Klaus Fuchs went to jail. All of this is pretty much accepted statecraft. Are we supposed to think that something _went wrong_ when Klaus Fuchs was caught spying and went to jail? That's what happens to spies who are caught. Hence Assange.

With the important difference being that Assange is not a spy.

Edit: Downvoted for pointing out that Assange is not a spy. I'm honestly surprised by HN.

That's actually very questionable. It's pretty clear by now that at the very least he's a Russian intelligence asset.

[citation needed]

Misdirection. The news is a spy was caught and who it was; not that the Soviet Union was attempting to subvert the Manhattan Project.

And the news here to me is that the Spanish contractor was caught spying. So while it can be argued that the US spying is no news story, the spying by the security company is.

Frankly I can't help but imagine that the outsourcing of everything (but especially janitorial and security staff) has made it incredibly easy for everyone from state intelligence agencies to private corporations to insert spies into interesting places.

that's stupid. counter intelligence is also one of our side's basic duties. spy on the other guys, and stop the other guys from spying on us, that's the job description.

From the perspective of the Soviets - yes this is true. This analogy doesn’t work at all.

BTW, Fuchs died of old age.

That's the most surprising thing in that story as far as I'm concerned.

Uhm, Assange’s mission is to expose abuse by members of powerful organizations, directed at protecting their own positions and covering up abuses with more of the same.

Assange is a political actor. This is especially clear after his explicit support of Trump during the U.S. 2016 elections. Of course, being a political actor doesn't negate the substance of the revelations he facilitated, but his agenda definitely isn't based out of an objective desire to speak truth to power.

perhaps at one time it was. now his mission is to stay out of prison.

But only if they organizations align with his world view.

Never saw anything from Wikileaks criticising the Trump or Russian administration even though they are two of the most egregious abusers of norms.

Funny how he ended up being Putin's bitch and working with the GRU to throw the US presidential election to Trump then, isn't it?

Information wants to be free

Unless it’s about me

Which state, the british, the US, or ecuador? Or all three? I get what you 're saying but this doesnt make it normal or ethical.

It's extremely normal. Every intelligence agency is trying to bug each others' embassies. There's tape of the Saudis killing Jamal Kashoggi because the Turkish government was routinely bugging the Saudi embassy. We've been bugging each others' embassies since we had electronic surveillance, and before that we were sneaking informants in on the staff.

Ethics is another question.

Ethical is of course up for debate, but it's certainly normal that an intelligence asset that leaked thousands of pages of classified documents would be surveilled in captivity. It's spycraft 101.

I think I know a handful of men who'd disagree with you on the idea of the state not taking things (like privacy) that don't belong to them is "ludicrous"...

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

Actually, if you go through the Declaration of Independence, everything said about King George...basically applies to now. A lot of it directly applies to Assange.

And that's not even getting into the Constitution.

Assange isn't American, isn't on American soil, and people in his position have been fair game for surveillance for approximately the entire existence of America.

George Washington personally ran a spy ring: https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-revolution...

It says that all men are endowed these rights by a creator, which doesn't imply that nationality has anything to do with those rights. George Washington was the worst of the Founding Fathers, and didn't write the Declaration of Independence.

The declaration says there's a right to "Life" and every one of the founders fought a bloody revolutionary war.

I don't think it makes any sense to read the Declaration as a pacifist document.

Which one was the best in your opinion?

Jefferson refused to recognize Haiti as an independent republic.

Does it? It didn't really apply then either: https://oll.libertyfund.org/pages/1776-hutchinson-strictures...

it's more about spying on everyone else around them. Also spying isn't meant to be acceptable in principle. It's a bad thing that shows low trust , it's justified in case-by-case basis.

Intelligence agencies spying on an Australian? Of course!

Any of that finding its way into a prosecutors stack of documents and informing police action? That's how you build the Geheime Staatspolizei aka Gestapo.

See also: Parallel construction

> I don't even know why this is a story.

I was going to call it gossip journalism but then Google corrected me

> Julian Assange's explicit mission was to expose US (and other) intelligence secrets

Those secrets are already exposed. The intelligence value in watching him is to (a) see what further assets he gains and (b) suss out what channels he uses to communicate to foreign intelligence agencies. Either could unveil e.g. a previously-unknown Russian spy or communications channel in London or Ecuador.

> but the idea that the state shouldn't spy on him in turn is ludicrous.

I think that a healthy plurality of us here don't even really believe that the state's existence is just to begin with, much less its proclivity to spy on those seeking to shine light on its indiscretions.

> a healthy plurality of us here don't even really believe that the state's existence is just to begin with

The idea that the largest group of people on HN do not believe states should exist is straight up delusional. Why is it that you believe that it is so?

I don't have a good reason for thinking this, and perhaps I might be more likely to achieve certainty if I limited my query to the USA HN audience, but I think that there is a widespread sense that the internet, insofar as it represents some evolutionary mechanism, is unlikely to tolerate the capricious and childish tendencies that the state seems to continually embody.

This reflects VERY badly on the nation of Equador. It reveals that their promise of sanctuary to Assange was meaningless. Worse, it calls into question ANY claim of diplomatic privilege by Equador toward anyone and their private communications is untrustworthy and will remain so until the entire present government of Equador is dead and gone.

Simply put, Equador canot be trusted. Now everyone knows.

Alas, the same can be said for Sweden now that it's been revealed that their prosecution of Assange was baseless.

Wait, how it is Ecuador's fault that the Americans managed to spy on their embassy?

I guess it shows Ecuador’s counterintelligence skills aren’t up to the level of a superpower, but I’m pretty sure anyone could have guessed that one already.

Does anyone actually think that the "rape allegations" against him weren't made by a CIA asset? I mean, for 40 years the man had no issues with women. Within months of starting to publish info that makes the US government feel a little uncomfortable, boom, he's now a "rapist", convicted in the court of public opinion with no evidence whatsoever. There was, in fact, so little evidence that the prosecutor in Sweden initially refused to pursue rape charges. I suspect screws were then put to the Swedish judicial system, and they decided it'd be more politically expedient to comply. And I think it was quite clear to Assange where this wind was blowing from, so he chose not to face charges, which if the system wasn't rigged against him would likely not result in a conviction owing to the lack of evidence. But once you consider who's really pulling the strings, facing the charges becomes a very dangerous thing: spending 7 years locked in the embassy is vastly perferable to e.g. Guantanamo.

Mission accomplished Sweden. You can drop the charges now.

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/media/2019/nov/19/sweden-drops-j...

I don't get what's shocking about this.

If you have a consistent history of publishing a foreign government's state secrets that damage its national security, they're gonna spy on you.

And before the nitpickers jump in on me, I believe whether or not Assange actually damaged US national security by publishing leaks is a decision best left to people who actually work in national security rather than armchair bystanders like myself.

> is a decision best left to people who actually work in national security

That's like the butcher who's approving their own meat though. Yet, if they share such assessment with general public, the enemy hears it as well. A good middle ground is a commission who are bound to STFU about details but may assess the situation.

It would be wise to hold your government accountable in a democracy or you are bound to loose it. Assange released information that the evidence that started a significant war was falsified. There have been no consequences to that.

It certainly damages your national security if other countries get information about unjustly interventions by your government. So whose fault could that be?

I find it interesting that this news was largely over-shadowed by the news that he was acquitted on the two rape-charges in Sweden (again). The so-called rapes could/should have been dropped a lot earlier as they did not amount to what generally would be considered rape (i.e broken condom in consensual sex), but they choose to do it the same day this story broke.

He wasn't acquitted. The prosecution have chosen not to pursue the investigation because of the elapsed time.

And it was one rape allegation that they've stopped pursuing, not two. I don't believe there was a second one. The other allegation was for sexual molestation which passed the statute of limitations a while ago.

The real news is that it has emerged Swedish authorities wanted to drop this years ago and were "dissuaded" by UK authorities. Now that US extradition is likely, and a competing claim by Sweden would put that at risk, they conveniently withdraw - what are the chance they were "persuaded" by someone else, again?

Sweden really did a number on Assange.

> and were "dissuaded" by UK authorities

Do you have a source for that?

> a competing claim by Sweden would put that at risk

The prosecutor tried but a court in Uppsala refused the detention request so the Yanks got in first.

Spanish company, how far would they get with a GDPR request? Are security companies exempt?

The GDPR contains explicit exceptions for police and national security; see Recital 16, Article 23(1), etc.

They were not police, and unless they were directly hired by GCHQ or similar, they were not working for UK natsec either.

I doubt those exceptions cover spying on behalf of a third party who is not party to the GDPR.

Does anyone actually find this "shocking"? It's pretty much what I expected.

Why does it have to be shocking? Is that the gold standard of news nowadays? That it has to be shocking, or else it isn't newsworthy?

From the article: "This espionage operation is particularly shocking if we consider that Assange was protected by asylum"

I'm just pointing out the over the top outrage.

It would be a better article if it just described what happened and why it's bad.

Realistically, that is how News works.


It's not just you, and it's been going on a while.

The natural result of autodead comments. Heavy mod censorship. The inability to speak about mod censorship.

And of course HN kowtows to US surveillance interests. Some accounts get special privileges and vote brigades are allowed by some. Finally those against such interests such as Snowden or Assange get special treatment.

Having an open, fair, unbiased, uncensored discussion or such issues on HN is impossible.

My comment will never be seen.

>My comment will never be seen.

This is false, I'm seeing your comment. I even see it when logged out (so no showdead).

>Some accounts get special privileges and vote brigades are allowed by some.

Is there evidence for this? (Besides of course mods getting mod privileges.)

This is just sick. Why do we even have international laws if they are so blatantly violated? And of course no one will be held accountable.

It is because congress and law makers don't make the US federal agencies accountable for their actions. A law does not exist if there is no punishment for violation of said law.

It's not actually illegal for the CIA to spy on foreign embassies.

The US was caught bugging the UN, and we tapped Angela Merkel's phone. The intelligence agencies are, more or less, doing exactly what they were set up to do.

And the other guys are bugging us in return (see: mysterious cell-site simulators popping up in DC, etc).

The CIA runs a drone warfare program, bugging one embassy is not going to turn their stomachs.

Which international laws would you be referring to in this case?

The vienna diplomatic convention according to which the UK should protect the embassy from intrusion


The Vienna Convention isn't super clear on what counts as "intrusion", but I suspect it's generally read as physical intrusion - you don't send people in to raid the place. Spying on embassies has a long, storied history.

What exactly do you think intelligence services do?

They do this, that's their job.

Well they did a dismal job of it (i.e. were suspected and got caught). If justice prevails none of that evidence will be admissible, and the extradition efforts have likely been put at risk.

Listening in to privileged conversations between a lawyer and their client would be viewed quite poorly by any judge.

There is no institution to enforce them - the best we have is the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice, the latter of which will only arbitrate disputes between consenting States.

No State is going to hold each other accountable when they're all doing the same thing, and nobody would ever sign up to some sort of supranational authority.

Note that the actions weren't by the US Intelligence Community but by a private proxy. Frankly, I was expecting an Israeli firm, not a Spanish one.

Now replace "security firm" with Facebook, or similar.

Good, right? I mean, if he really is some Russian asset rather than a straightforward political opposition journalist, they would have obtained loads of evidence to substantiate this. So, where is it?

It's where they keep all the other evidence of foreign intelligence operations - a secure classified intelligence facility. Where should they be keeping it?

Presumably they would pass some of it to the NYT and other government mouthpieces, rather than leaving them to innuendo.

I'd just elide that 'presumably' part.

It can't be that secure if "La Repubblica has had access to the video and audio recordings".

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