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 11 - After a campaign of espionage, an Espionage Act prosecution
On April 11, 2019, British police raided the Ecuadorian embassy in London and dragged Assange into a waiting van. It was the first time in history a government had allowed a foreign law enforcement agency to enter its sovereign territory to arrest one of its citizens.
That same day, Ola Bini – the Swedish computer programmer branded as a “hacker” by Morales and placed under apparent US surveillance – was arrested in Ecuador and detained for months without charges. Accused of collaborating with Assange and various cyber-crimes, Bini has been held in Ecuador’s El Inca prison, where US authorities have reportedly requested to interrogate him. Amnesty International has labeled Bini a “digital defender” and condemned “undue government interference” as well as the intimidation of his legal defense team.
Assange, an Australian citizen, was subsequently jailed in Belmarsh Prison, where he now awaits possible extradition to the US and trial for 18 charges, 17 of which relate to violating the Espionage Act. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 175 years in prison.
During the first extradition hearing this February 24, Assange was confined to a glass box that prevented him from directly conferring with his lawyers. Observers including former British diplomat Craig Murray said they noticed US agents conferring outside the courtroom with UK prosecutors.
One witness to the extradition hearing provided The Grayzone with photographs of several attendees they claimed were US Department of Justice officials who sat directly behind British prosecutors throughout the proceedings. The photos, seen below, show the alleged officials outside the courtroom.
After the hearing began, according to Assange’s lawyer, Martinez, a female British barrister arrived and demanded permission to observe. She was representing Las Vegas Sands, a clear indication that Adelson was deeply concerned about the outcome of the proceedings.
Having been promoted from CIA director to secretary of state, Mike Pompeo has reportedly laid the groundwork to run for US senate in Kansas. The first step in Pompeo’s fledgling campaign, according to a raft of articles, was outreach to Sheldon Adelson to “gauge interest” in financing the Senate bid.
By the end of 2019, following the exposure of Sands’ relationship with UC Global, former employees of Morales revealed a rumor that Adelson’s bodyguard, Zohar Lahav, had been fired by Las Vegas Sands. When Morales was asked during an appearance before the Spanish court this February if the rumor was true, he confirmed it, stating that Lahav was terminated because of the “mess” that he helped create.
Reached by phone by The Grayzone on May 12, Lahav immediately hung up when told he was speaking with a reporter.