Can A Lawsuit Against The CIA Affect U.S. Extradition Attempt of Julian Assange?
In August 2022, a group of U.S. citizen attorneys and journalists sued the CIA and its former director Mike Pompeo. They alleged that the CIA, during Pompeos tenure, spied on them during meetings with Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. The WikiLeaks founder sheltered there for 7 years in an effort to avoid extradition to the United States.. Assange is charged with 17 counts under the Espionage Act for revealing evidence of U.S. war crimes. If convicted, he faces 175 years in prison.
The lawsuit says that the CIA violated the privacy rights of those journalists and lawyers. Plaintiffs include journalists Charles Glass and John Goetz, and New York City attorneys Margaret Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek, who have represented Assange. The suit seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the plaintiffs for the violations of their rights. It also seeks the removal of any information held by the CIA which was collected from them during their visits to see Assange and prevention of the release of any this information to a third party.
The CIA, as listeners may know, is prohibited from collecting intelligence on U.S. citizens, although several lawmakers have alleged that the agency maintains a secret repository of Americans’ communications data. Richard Roth, the lead attorney in this case, had this to say: “The United States Constitution shields American citizens from U.S. government overreach even when the activities take place in a foreign embassy in a foreign country.
Journalists and lawyers visiting Assange were required to surrender their electronic devices to Undercover Global before each visit. U.C. Global is a private security company which was providing security to the embassy. The lawsuit alleged that the company copied that information and handed it over to the CIA.
In early November, Deborah Hrbek and our own Marjorie Cohn discussed the lawsuit and the case against Assange, in a program sponsored by the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee. For our show today, were delighted to bring you their remarks and answers to several audience questions. Deborah Hrbek starts off the event. In addition to being a member of the Assange defense team, her law practice focuses on entertainment and small business law. Marjorie is a member of the national advisory board of Assange Defense.
Hosted by Attorney Heidi Boghosian