Spy vs Spy starring Julian Assange
Revealed: Russia’s secret plan to help Julian Assange escape from UK https://t.co/791RBlgWt3
— The Guardian (@guardian) September 21, 2018
Just the highlights because the article really looks like an episode of MAD magazine's Spy vs Spy. It even has maps of the embassy and the escape plan.
Tentative plot to whisk fugitive from London embassy on Christmas Eve was considered too risky
Russian diplomats held secret talks in London last year with people close to Julian Assange to assess whether they could help him flee the UK, the Guardian has learned.
A tentative plan was devised that would have seen the WikiLeaks founder smuggled out of Ecuador’s London embassy in a diplomatic vehicle and transported to another country.
One ultimate destination, multiple sources have said, was Russia, where Assange would not be at risk of extradition to the US. The plan was abandoned after it was deemed too risky.
The involvement of Russian officials in hatching what was described as a “basic” plan raises new questions about Assange’s ties to the Kremlin. The WikiLeaks editor is a key figure in the ongoing US criminal investigation into Russia’s attempts to sway the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.
Details of the Assange escape plan are sketchy. Two sources familiar with the inner workings of the Ecuadorian embassy said that Fidel Narváez, a close confidant of Assange who until recently served as Ecuador’s London consul, served as a point of contact with Moscow.
In an interview with the Guardian, Narváez denied having been involved in discussions with Russia about extracting Assange from the embassy.
Four separate sources said the Kremlin was willing to offer support for the plan – including the possibility of allowing Assange to travel to Russia and live there. One of them said that an unidentified Russian businessman served as an intermediary in these discussions.
Narváez previously played a role in trying to secure Edward Snowden’s safe passage following his leak of secret NSA material in 2013. Narváez gave the former NSA contractor a so-called safe-conduct pass when he left Hong Kong for Moscow, where Snowden eventually found asylum. (no mention that the US state department yanked Snowden's passport while he was trying to change planes at the Russia airport - sd)
Assange’s Christmas Eve escape was aborted with just days to go, one source claimed. Rommy Vallejo, the head of Ecuador’s intelligence agency, allegedly travelled to the UK on or around 15 December 2017 to oversee the operation and left London when it was called off.
In February Vallejo quit his job and is believed to be in Nicaragua. He is under investigation for the alleged kidnapping in 2012 of a political rival to Correa.
Sources offered conflicting accounts of who cancelled the Assange operation, but all agreed it was deemed to be too risky. The stumbling block was the UK’s refusal to grant Assange diplomatic protection.
At the time Assange was facing allegations of rape and sexual assault made by two women in Sweden. In 2012 he sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy after he lost a battle against extradition in the supreme court. Assange denies the women’s claims. Swedish authorities eventually dropped both cases after the statute of limitations expired. (?) Assange faces arrest for breaching his bail conditions.
During the US presidential campaign, Donald Trump praised WikiLeaks for releasing the emails that damaged Clinton. Confidential visitor logs obtained by the Guardian reveal that Assange received several Russian nationals during the summer of 2016, including senior figures from RT, the Kremlin’s international propaganda channel. (lmao)
In March 2017 WikiLeaks published confidential CIA documents. Assange believes a grand jury indicted him over this and other leaks, with the charges filed under seal. Were he to leave the embassy the US would seek his extradition, his lawyers say.
The Ecuadorian government declined to comment. The Russian embassy in London tweeted on Friday that the Guardian story was “another example of disinformation and fake news from the British media”.