Several journalists and lawyers filed a lawsuit on Monday against the CIA and former Director Mike Pompeo w the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The plaintiffs alleged that the organization spied on them when they visited Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks.
Journalists Charles Glass and John Goetz and attorneys Margaret Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek are the plaintiffs in the case. Kunstler and Hrbek have previously represented Assange.
The plaintiffs stated that when they visited Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, they were required to hand their electronic devices over to Undercover Global S.L., an international security firm. At the time, the firm provided security to the London embassy.
The lawsuit accused Undercover Global S.L. of copying and providing the data to the CIA. The journalists and lawyers claimed that Pompeo’s CIA violated their privacy rights by spying on them.
The lawsuit alleged that the company was ordered to “install systems which would significantly improve the quality of surveillance of Assange’s daily activities, better record all conversations, and precisely copy and steal the content of electronic devices that third party visitors … brought into the Embassy.”
Richard Roth, the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs, stated, “The United States Constitution shields American citizens from U.S. government overreach even when the activities take place in a foreign embassy in a foreign country.”
According to Reuters, the CIA declined to comment on the matter. Former Director Mike Pompeo and Undercover Global S.L. could not be reached for comment on the lawsuit.
The lawyers and journalists claimed they were unaware that their electronic information was copied or that their conversations were recorded until October 2019. They stated that an article in El Pais reported that Undercover Global S.L. was charged in a Spanish criminal case for handing over audio and video to the CIA of meetings Assange had with lawyers.
In the lawsuit, all four plaintiffs claimed to have visited Assange around January 2017 and March 2018. Assange resided at the embassy for nearly seven years before his asylum status was revoked. At that point, he was arrested by U.K. police in 2019.
Since then, Assange has attempted to stop his extradition to the United States by appealing the case with London’s High Court of Justice. He is wanted in the U.S. on 18 counts related to the release of confidential military records on WikiLeaks.