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Was Sheldon Adelson Acting As Bag Man for the CIA?

Explosive charges: illegal surveillance of Assange hand-delivered to U.S. agency via Trump pal's Sands casino.

Las Vegas casino boss Sheldon Adelson in Macau on September 20, 2012. (Photo LOPEZ/AFP/GettyImages)

Julian Assange’s pathetic tale of persecution has just taken a tawdry turn. He is rotting away in a London jail but he will testify via camera to Spain’s National Court in two weeks that a Spanish security company spied on him relentlessly and illegally for several years at the Ecuadoran embassy in London. According to prosecutors in the case, the company, employed by the Ecuadoran government, deployed cameras and microphones in bathrooms, live streaming his every move and conversation with lawyers and officials, and then hand delivered the surveillance to the CIA in the States on a regular basis.

The embassy has flatly denied that they were eavesdropping on Assange and allowing a separate pipeline to the CIA to boot. But here is the rub: A ton of evidence was delivered to the court, which is investigating the firm UC Global and its flashy chief David Morales, who allegedly served as the point man in the spying scheme. A lot of that evidence first came to light publicly through the newspaper El Pais, which has access to videos, audio and reports that prove the spying occurred. The New York Times has also seen the material, enough to say Tuesday that it showed “his claims of being spied upon were not just paranoia or a publicity stunt.”

From El Pais:

After the installation of new video cameras at the beginning of December 2017, Morales requested that his technicians install an external streaming access point in the same area so that all of the recordings could be accessed instantly by the United States. … Morales ordered his workers to install microphones in the embassy’s fire extinguishers and also in the women’s bathroom, where Assange’s lawyers, including the Spaniard Aitor Martínez and his closest collaborators, would meet for fear of being spied on. The cyberactivist’s meetings with his lawyers, Melynda Taylor, Jennifer Robinson and Baltasar Garzón, were also monitored.

The UC Global S. L. team was also ordered by its boss to install stickers that prevented the windows of the rooms that the WikiLeaks founder used from vibrating, allegedly to make it easier for the CIA to record conversations with their laser microphones. They also took a used diaper from a baby that was on occasion taken to visit the activist in order to determine if the child was his by a close collaborator.

The prosecution has indicted Morales on criminal charges violations of Assange’s privacy and the secrecy of his client-attorney privileges, as well as misappropriation, bribing a government official, and money laundering. Morales has denied the charges.

So where does billionaire kingmaker Adelson and his Las Vegas Sands casino come in? (yes, the same GOP mega-donor who helped to elect Trump in 2016 and who many suspect was behind the appointment of John Bolton to National Security Advisor, and Trump’s incredible policy genuflections to Israel’s rightwing, including moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, and blessing Israel’s annex of the Golan Heights).

Turns out, like Kansas City under-boss Artie Piscano in Scorsese’s Casino, Morales liked to talk about his trips and it would be his undoing. First, according to El Pais and NYT, he told his staff that UC Global was going to work “for the dark side,” and “another league,” after returning from a trip to Las Vegas. According to court documents filed by the prosecution, he signed a contract with Adelson’s casino. Former employees who have been granted witness protection have testified that Morales traveled to the U.S. once or twice a month, carrying with him hard disks containing the recordings from inside the Ecuadoran embassy. According to these former employees, he repeatedly told them not to talk to Ecuadoran officials about the trips. Prosecutors, according to the NYT, contend that Morales passed the disks to security officials at Adelson’s casino, which served as a go-between for the CIA.

A spokesman for the agency has declined comment. Morales’ visits to Adelson of course, could be incidental, according to El Pais, since the military-turned-spy-strong arm had been working for Adelson for years, “taking care of security on the latter’s yacht during trips to the Mediterranean.” We know Adelson isn’t talking.

Certainly we shouldn’t be surprised that the CIA took advantage of its weak sister allies and bullied its way into bugging a foreign embassy in a foreign city. We know it has been building its own case against Assange and this is how the national security state likes to do things: completely ignore the law—spy, cheat, torture—whatever it takes to win. Just ask the Guantanamo Bay defense lawyers.

Assange’s team reportedly wants to use this as one more reason why the Brits can extradite him to the U.S. on charges of stealing classified information. I’m afraid they will probably have to come up with more than that. We have to assume now that the Trump administration is not going to let go until it nails this guy to the wall, even if it means playing dirty. The question is, why?

about the author

Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, executive editor, has been writing for TAC for the last decade, focusing on national security, foreign policy, civil liberties and domestic politics. She served for 15 years as a Washington bureau reporter for FoxNews.com, and at WTOP News in Washington from 2013-2017 as a writer, digital editor and social media strategist. She has also worked as a beat reporter at Bridge News financial wire (now part of Reuters) and Homeland Security Today, and as a regular contributor at Antiwar.com. A native Nutmegger, she got her start in Connecticut newspapers, but now resides with her family in Arlington, Va.

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