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New court files expose Sheldon Adelson’s security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange

An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign.

by Max Blumenthal

I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

–Mike Pompeo, College Station, TX, April 15, 2019

Part 3 - Journey to “the dark side”

On February 26, 2017, Wikileaks announced the forthcoming release of a major tranche of CIA files revealing details of the agency’s hacking and electronic surveillance tools. One such spying application called “Marble” allowed agency spies to implant code that obfuscated their identity on computers they had hacked. Other files contained evidence of programs that allowed hackers to break into encrypted messaging applications like Signal and Telegram, and to turn Samsung smart TVs into listening devices. 

Two days after Wikileaks’ initial announcement, on February 28, Morales was junketed from Spain to a hotel in Alexandria, Virginia – just a stone’s throw from CIA headquarters in Langley. Though UC Global had no publicly known contracts with any company in Virginia, court documents obtained by The Grayzone establish that Morales sent encrypted emails from an Alexandria IP address and paid bills from a local hotel for the next eight days. 

From that point on, he traveled back and forth almost each month between Spain, the DC area, New York City, Chicago, or the Las Vegas base of Adelson’s operations.

When in DC, Morales sent emails from a static IP address at the Grand Hyatt Hotel just four blocks from the White House.

The Instagram posts of Morales’ wife and travel partner, Noelia Páez, highlighted the frequency of his trips.

Fellow UC Global executives began to grow suspicious of Morales and his secretive dealings in the US. According to their testimonies, he spoke constantly about his working relationship with the Americans. Yet UC Global had been contracted by Ecuador’s intelligence agency, SENAIN, to provide security to the country’s embassy in London – not to spy on its occupants. 

It was increasingly clear to them that Morales was deceiving one client in Quito to serve a more powerful force in Washington.

I remember that David Morales asked a person from the company to prepare a safe phone, with safe applications, just like an encrypted computer to communicate with ‘the American friends,’ to take his relationship with the US out of the company’s range,” a former UC Global employee recalled. 

A former business partner at UC Global stated in their testimony, “Sometimes, when I insistently asked him who his ‘American friends’ were, on some occasions David Morales answered that they were ‘the US intelligence.’ However, when I asked him for a particular person from intelligence he was meeting with to give them information, Mr. Morales cut the conversation and pointed out that the subject was exclusively managed by him aside from the company.” 

The ex-partner suspected that Morales was receiving payments from US intelligence through a bank account managed by his wife, Páez. “On one occasion,” they testified, “I heard a conversation related to payments to that account from which Mr. Morales didn’t want to inform the rest of the company members about.

Suspicion turned to rage when the former UC Global partner recognized the full extent of Morales’ subterfuge. “I started [lashing out] at him openly in violent discussions in which I reiterated to him that a company like ours is based on ‘creating trust’ and that he can’t ‘give out information to the opposing side,’” the ex-associate recalled. At the end of several such arguments, he said Morales tore open his shirt, puffed out his chest and exclaimed, “I am a wholehearted mercenary!” 

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