Julian Assange had extensive meetings with Russians and “world-class hackers” during the 2016 American presidential election, a time when his organization WikiLeaks was accused of coordinating with the Russian government to interfere in the election.
A new report from CNN details how the WikiLeaks founder received in-person deliveries during these suspicious meetings, potentially receiving hacked materials. CNN obtained surveillance reports compiled by the private Spanish security firm UC Global, which had been hired by the Ecuadorian government to chronicle Assange’s movements.
As the report noted, Assange used the Ecuadorian embassy in London as something of a headquarters for his organization’s interference in the election as he held meetings with Russians, sometimes for long periods. WikiLeaks released a series of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign chief to embarrass the Democratic Party’s candidate and sow division among Democratic voters.
The final Russia report from Special Counsel Robert Mueller concluded that WikiLeaks worked directly with the Russian government to disseminate these stolen emails, part of Russia’s campaign to hurt Clinton’s chances of winning the election and help to elect Donald Trump.
As CNN found, Julian Assange was not held back by his lack of freedom in the embassy, where he was holed up to avoid potential rape charges in Sweden.
“Despite being confined to the embassy while seeking safe passage to Ecuador, Assange met with Russians and world-class hackers at critical moments, frequently for hours at a time,” the report noted.
“He also acquired powerful new computing and network hardware to facilitate data transfers just weeks before WikiLeaks received hacked materials from Russian operatives.”
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As the Guardian noted, Assange exerted a significant amount of control over his visitors while staying as a guest in the embassy. He was able to create a list of people who could bypass security to enter the embassy without showing identification, and could even delete names from its visitor logs. The report noted that he took great measures to keep these visits a secret, even meeting inside a women’s bathroom so he could stay out of the range of security cameras.
After allegedly working to help Donald Trump win the presidential election, Julian Assange has since found himself a target of Trump’s Department of Justice. After the WikiLeaks founder was arrested by London police in April, the department announced a series of charges against Assange including violation of the Espionage Act by publishing classified information through WikiLeaks.