Secret Surveillance Docs Show Russian Hackers Delivering Files To Julian Assange After Trump Called On Russia To Hack Hillary Emails
Secret surveillance documents obtained by CNN reveal that Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, received, in a series of meetings that took place at the Embassy of Ecuador in London, potentially hacked materials related to the US 2016 elections shortly after Donald Trump called on Russia to thack Hilary Clinton’s emails.
In his report on the Russian election interference, special prosecutor Robert Mueller raised the possibility that these documents brought to the embassy cyber-pirated files about the Democratic Party and its then-candidate Hillary Clinton.
The surveillance reports also show that Assange met with Russian citizens and world-class hackers at critical moments of the campaign, often for hours. It also acquired new and powerful computer and network equipment to facilitate data transfer, a few weeks before WikiLeaks received hacked materials from Russian agents.
According to CNN, these surprising details come from hundreds of surveillance reports compiled for the government of Ecuador by the Spanish private security company UC Global. The reports relate Assange’s movements in the embassy and provide an unprecedented window into his life inside the diplomatic headquarters. They also add a new dimension to Mueller’s report, which cataloged how WikiLeaks helped the Russians interfere in the US election.
An Ecuadorian intelligence official told the news network that the surveillance reports are authentic.
The security records highlight that Assange personally handled some of the publications of the material “directly from the embassy”, where he lived for almost seven years. After the presidential election in which Trump was victorious, the security company prepared an assessment of Assange’s loyalties. His report, which included information from open sources, concluded: “There is no doubt that there is evidence of the link between Julian Assange and the Russian secret services.”
The surveillance reports on Assange’s activities at the Embassy of Ecuador add a new dimension to the Mueller Report, which cataloged how WikiLeaks helped the Russians undermine the US presidential election. The documents develop the possibility, raised by Mueller, that several Russian messengers take cyber-pirated files to the embassy
Assange sought refuge in the Embassy of Ecuador in June 2012 to request political asylum and avoid extradition to Sweden, where he was then facing accusations of sexual assault, something he denies. The decision to offer Assange asylum was taken by the then president of Ecuador, Rafael Correa, who said he was protecting Assange from “political persecution.” The asylum also fulfilled two great purposes: it highlighted the status of Ecuador on the world stage and sealed Correa’s credentials as an antagonist of the US leadership in Latin America.
During Assange’s stay, Ecuador hired three security companies to maintain constant vigilance. To hinder the espionage, Assange installed its own recording devices and used noise machines, as described by the documents obtained by CNN.
The task of controlling Assange proved difficult. He even attacked the guards several times in fits of rage, according to the documents.
For the month of June, Trump and Clinton had emerged as the de facto candidates of their parties and were preparing for what would be a tough contest. The campaign took a historic turn when then-candidate Trump publicly called on Russia to hack his Democratic rival’s emails. then, on June 14, the Democratic National Committee announced it had been hacked and blamed Russia, something Trump called a sham.
Meanwhile, in the embassy, Assange kept busy. That month, members of the security team worked overtime to handle at least 75 visits, almost twice the monthly average recorded by the company that year. He met with Russian citizens and with a hacker considered in the Mueller report as a potential messenger of emails stolen from Democrats.
Also in June, WikiLeaks communicated secretly with Russian hackers, and Assange publicly announced his plans to reveal new material about Clinton. The Mueller report says that cyber-pirates concealed their identities using online pseudonyms in all their communications with WikiLeaks, including emails and direct messages to the WikiLeaks account on Twitter.
Assange held at least seven meetings that month with Russians and others linked to the Kremlin, according to the visitor registry.
Two of those meetings were with a Russian citizen named Yana Maximova, who could not be located for comment on the subject. Little is known about Maximova, which makes it difficult to discern why he visited the embassy at key moments of the US presidential election. In his two visits that month, he met with Assange during the course of the afternoon in the conference room of the embassy.
The other five Assange appointments that month were with senior RT staff, the news organization controlled by the Kremlin.
The US intelligence agencies have concluded that RT “actively collaborated with WikiLeaks” and played a significant role in the Russian initiative to influence the 2016 election and help Trump win. During several months of 2012, Assange presented a TV program on RT.
In June 2016, the head of the RT correspondent in London, Nikolay Bogachikhin, twice visited Assange, and gave him a USB stick once, according to the surveillance report. That five-minute visit was hastily agreed upon and required last-minute approval from the ambassador.
Nikolay Bogachikhin, head of the correspondent in London of the news agency RT, controlled by the Kremlin, visited Assange at the embassy twice in June 2016, according to visitor records obtained by CNN.
Shortly after WikiLeaks established contact with Russian hackers, Assange asked his hosts to improve their Internet connection.
As the election approached, security officials at the embassy noted that Assange revealed some of the emails hacked “directly from the embassy,” according to the surveillance documents. The Mueller Report explicitly states that “Assange had access to the Internet from the Embassy of Ecuador in London, England,” but the rest of the information contained in that paragraph of the report is largely crossed out because it is classified information.
Mueller concluded that hackers from the Russian military intelligence agency, known as GRU, attacked Democratic targets in the second quarter of 2016 and extracted hundreds of gigabytes of information. They invented online pseudonyms -Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks- to transfer several of the files to WikiLeaks.
The Mueller Report says that on July 6, WikiLeaks communicated with Russian online characters to ask them to send anything “related to Hillary” as soon as possible, “because the” (Democratic National Convention) is approaching and she will stay with all the followers of Bernie “, referring to Clinton’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Vermont state Senator Bernie Sanders.
The following week (July 14), the trio of hackers – Assange, Müller-Maguhn and Fix – met for more than four hours at the embassy, according to security records. The report of the special prosecutor indicates that, on this date, Russian hackers, who called themselves Guccifer 2.0, sent encrypted files to WikiLeaks, with the title “large file”.
On July 18, the same day the Republican National Convention was inaugurated in Cleveland, a security guard from the Embassy of Ecuador in London broke the protocol by leaving his post to receive, outside the building, a package of hands from a mystery man. He covered his face with a mask and sunglasses and wore a backpack, so it is seen in the surveillance images obtained by CNN.
The security company saw how the meeting developed and recommended the replacement of that guard. However, the Government of Ecuador kept him in his position.
That same day, according to the Mueller Report, WikiLeaks informed Russian hackers that it had received the files and was preparing to release them soon. It is not clear if these incidents are related and the content delivered is not known.
WikiLeaks released more than 20,000 files of the Democratic National Committee on July 22, and emails exposed how top leaders preferred Clinton and tried to undermine Sanders. The party convention in Philadelphia dissolved in the midst of a chaotic disaster. A week that was designed to achieve party unity became almost a riot. The representative for Florida, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, president of the Democratic National Committee, was forced to resign.
While the Democrats tried to handle the debacle, Trump quickly raised the bet.
“Russia, if you’re listening, I hope you can find the 30,000 missing emails,” he said on July 27, referring to emails from Clinton’s private server. Mueller said the Russians were listening after all, and for the first time they tried to hack into Clinton’s office, hours after that Trump comment.
“You will not be disappointed,” he added.
While Trump and Clinton traveled throughout the country in the campaign weeks, the Russians increased their efforts and Assange worked hard on another great project.
Calling themselves DCLeaks, the Russian hackers had contacted WikiLeaks again to offer them more material. They then transmitted 50,000 stolen e-mails from the e-mail inbox of Clinton campaign chief John Podesta.
The special prosecutor’s report identified a potential date for the data transfer: September 19. That day, Assange met again with Müller-Maguhn and the security guards watched Assange installing new computer cables in his room, according to documents obtained by CNN.
WikiLeaks began revealing Podesta’s emails on October 7 and published new batches almost daily before the November election. The media covered all the shameful details, including the transcripts of the paid speeches that Clinton delivered behind closed doors on Wall Street, the criticism of his employees about their “terrible” political instincts and frustrations about the overlap of the candidate’s business and the charitable works of the Clinton Foundation, which they called “Bill Clinton Inc.”
Trump trumpeted the new leaks almost on each scale of his campaign route during the final weeks of the contest, sometimes reading directly from emails and taking advantage of conspiracy theories with weak sources.
“This just came out – WikiLeaks! I adore WikiLeaks, “Trump said at a rally in Pennsylvania, a critical state of uncertain electoral trends that ultimately won with less than 1% of the 6.1 million votes cast.
In April of this year, Assange’s asylum was revoked by the new Ecuadorian president, saying that Assange had “violated the norm of not intervening in internal affairs of other States.” This paved the way for British police to forcibly remove him from the embassy when the first US posts were made public.
He remains in a prison in the United Kingdom, hoping that – very likely – it will be a hard battle for his extradition to the United States, where he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
Donald Trump, meanwhile, has remained silent.
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