The Ecuadorian government has been accused of an “extensive spying operation” against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange which has led to a police investigation into claims of extortion.
Meetings with lawyers and a doctor inside the Ecuador embassy in London over the past year have been secretly filmed, Wikileaks said.
The anti-secrecy organisation said it had been offered all the material from an unnamed person in Spain, if it paid €3m.
Wikileaks editor Kristinn Hrafnsson (pictured, centre) said he travelled to Spain to meet the person and was shown videos of meetings Assange has held in the past year, as well as a copy of a legal document left briefly in a room in the embassy.
A judge in Spain is now investigating the allegations, Hrafnsson told a press conference in London today.
Assange has been living inside the embassy for almost seven years, believing he will be extradited to the United States for questioning over the activities of Wikileaks if he leaves the building.
Hrafnsson said attempts to expel Assange from the embassy had been escalating, leading to a warning issued by Wikileaks last week that this could happen within hours or days.
He added: “The only reason it was averted is because we heard about it and published the information.”
Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry last week categorically denied reports of an “imminent termination” of Assange’s diplomatic asylum.
It added that with this accusation Assange and Wikileaks had expressed “ingratitude and disrespect towards Ecuador, instead of showing gratitude to the country that has welcomed him for almost seven years, which has made significant expenditures to pay for his stay in Ecuador”.
Hrafnsson said there was an “extensive spying operation” against Assange, conducted from within the embassy.
Police in Spain were told about the documents and videos being offered for sale and the information has been passed to an investigative judge, said Hrafnsson.
Fidel Narvaez (pictured, left), a former diplomat at the embassy, told the press conference that the Government of Ecuador was not protecting Assange any more, even though he has been granted diplomatic immunity.
He said: “The Government of Ecuador is making everything possible to end the asylum.”
Wikileaks lawyer Jennifer Robinson said a complaint about the spying allegations was being made to the United Nations ahead of a planned meeting between Assange and a UN Special Rapporteur later this month.
“We remain concerned about the co-operation the Ecuador government is giving the United States.
“We know there is a sealed indictment in the US to prosecute him as a priority. No one can credibly deny that risk – that is the reason he was granted asylum.
“Any assurance from the UK Government that he would not be extradited is not believable.”
Hrafnsson said Assange was now living in a “Truman Show” operation, with restrictions on his communications and visitors, introduced after Lenin Moreno became President of Ecuador last year.
Wikileaks assumes the secretly recorded information has been handed to the administration of US President Donald Trump.
Picture: Nick Ansell/PA Wire