- by Steve Sweeney
- The Guardian
- Issue #1981
British spooks remained tight-lipped today after questions posed by the Morning Star over an alleged CIA plot to kidnap and assassinate Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in London.
MI5 did not respond when asked what it knew about the plans to kill Assange on British soil reportedly discussed by the US spy agency and former US president Donald Trump at the White House in 2017.
Though a plan was never approved, discussions centred on the possibility of kidnapping Assange and even executing him if he left the sanctuary of the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had sought asylum over fears that the US planned to extradite him.
The plot was revealed in an explosive investigative report by Yahoo news that included interviews with at least thirty former top US officials.
Then US secretary of state Mike Pompeo, a former CIA director, is believed to have been the driving force behind the plot against Assange. He had been angered when WikiLeaks continued publishing classified government documents under the name Vault 7 – a vast tranche of material exposing CIA spying activities.
Scenarios presented for killing Assange included shootouts on the streets of London, crashing a car into his vehicle or even shooting the tyres off a plane taking him to Russia.
According to the Yahoo news report, US officials had asked their British counterparts to support their efforts. A former senior administration official claimed that the British agreed with the plan to eliminate Assange.
The Wikileaks founder had his asylum status revoked in 2019 and was arrested. He is currently being held in Britain’s high-security Belmarsh prison, facing extradition to the US and a lengthy sentence under the draconian Espionage Act.
His supporters claim that he is targeted for exposing war crimes committed by the US and others in their wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
John Rees of the Don’t Extradite Assange campaign said that the “incredible story strikes at the heart of the prosecution’s case” against Assange.
“They have repeatedly asserted that this is not a political case. This shows that it absolutely is, and that the legal attack on Assange came very close to becoming an actual physical assault and kidnapping and possibly an attempted murder.
“Julian Assange should be free and the people who conspired in this plan should be in the dock,” he said.
International Federation of Journalists General Secretary Anthony Bellanger has demanded a full investigation into the allegations and the immediate release and protection of Assange.
“The US war against Julian Assange has been constant over the past few years, so it comes as no surprise the CIA could have contemplated kidnapping and even killing him.
“If these new accusations about the CIA are true, it would cast a long shadow over all independent journalism. It would mean there is no safe haven for journalists or their sources,” he told the Morning Star.
The CIA was contacted for comment.