> 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.
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.
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 is why rule #1 of spying is: don't get caught.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Assassinating political dissidents is also part of that game, so shouldn't we be angry at Russia? They just did their job, did they?
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.
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?
People in different countries have different rights. And governments can usurp those rights as needed e.g. jail you, kill you.
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.
So I guess Russia has every right to spy on americans, right?
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'.
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?
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.
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.
And vice versa! There are a lot of great Cold War stories about the bugging of embassies.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
It means exactly that.
What technical solution could circumvent white noise??
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.
> 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.
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 :-)
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.
"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."
In contrast, evidence that the US Intelligence agencies actually framed Assange for rape would be much more newsworthy.
Edit: Downvoted for pointing out that Assange is not a spy. I'm honestly surprised by HN.
That's the most surprising thing in that story as far as I'm concerned.
Never saw anything from Wikileaks criticising the Trump or Russian administration even though they are two of the most egregious abusers of norms.
Unless it’s about me
Ethics is another question.
"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.
George Washington personally ran a spy ring: https://www.mountvernon.org/george-washington/the-revolution...
I don't think it makes any sense to read the Declaration as a pacifist document.
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 was going to call it gossip journalism but then Google corrected me
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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 certainly damages your national security if other countries get information about unjustly interventions by your government. So whose fault could that be?
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.
Sweden really did a number on Assange.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
They do this, that's their job.
Listening in to privileged conversations between a lawyer and their client would be viewed quite poorly by any judge.
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.
Now replace "security firm" with Facebook, or similar.