Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno has made no secret of his annoyance with the man he refers to a “hacker,” calling Assange “a stone in his shoe” as Ecuador seeks to restructure itself as a trusted ally of the United States.
by Elliott Gabriel
Part 4 - “Operation: Hotel” – espionage or simple state security?
While no longer facing rape allegations from Swedish prosecutors, Assange is still sought by British authorities for skipping bail and accepting the offer of asylum from former Ecuadorian President Correa.
Any attempt by Assange to leave the embassy would result in his arrest and detention in the U.K. for more than a year, followed by possible extradition to the United States. While he could contest prosecution by the U.S., his time in prison would be virtually assured.
The decision by Moreno to pull security from the facility comes after an “investigation” by The Guardian and right-wing research group Focus Ecuador was released this week. The report revealed that under former President Rafael Correa, Ecuador spent at least $5 million on a counter-espionage operation codenamed “Operation Hotel.” The goal was not only to protect Assange, according to the report, but provide surveillance through the placement of CCTV cameras throughout the building and round-the-clock security personnel assigned to the facility, who recorded Assange’s activities, disposition, and interactions with staff and lawyers, as well as the visitors who entered the Embassy. Records were allegedly sent directly to Correa.
The British newspaper speculates that the visitor records could possibly reveal who allegedly passed along the emails revealing the internal workings of the Democratic National Committee that were released by WikiLeaks in 2016 during the presidential elections.
According to logs viewed by The Guardian, visitors included RT London Bureau Chief Nikolai Bogachikin, British-Iranian journalist and RT anchor Afshin Rattansi, gadfly philosopher Slavoj Žižek, John Pilger, liberal documentarian Michael Moore, and dozens of others.
Beltway liberal pundits in the U.S. claim the DNC leak was engineered by the Russian government with the connivance of Assange, noting his immense loathing for Democratic Party candidate Hillary Clinton. The Guardian noted that “it is understood” that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has already interviewed a source close to the operation.
According to an anonymous source who spoke to The Guardian, Assange also breached the firewall of the embassy through his own personal internet connection via satellite, allowing him access to Ecuadorian diplomatic correspondence and the personal communications of staff.
WikiLeaks denies the allegation, calling it “an anonymous libel” stemming from the new “onslaught against Mr. Assange” by the governments of U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump.