Enter your email to read this article
Read news on any topic, in one place, from publishers like The Economist, FT, Bloomberg and more.

CIA sued over alleged spying on lawyers, journalists who met Assange

FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks to an audience at the "American Freedom Tour" event in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S., June 18, 2022. REUTERS/Karen Pulfer Focht

A group of journalists and lawyers sued the CIA and its former director Mike Pompeo over allegations the intelligence agency spied on them when they visited WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange during his stay in Ecuador's embassy in London.

The lawsuit said that CIA under Pompeo violated the privacy rights of those American journalists and lawyers by allegedly spying on them. The plaintiffs include journalists Charles Glass and John Goetz and attorneys Margaret Kunstler and Deborah Hrbek, who have represented Assange.

FILE PHOTO: A glass door bears a commemorative seal marking 75 years at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, U.S., July 8, 2022. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

"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," said Richard Roth, the lead attorney representing the plaintiffs.

The CIA, which declined to comment on the lawsuit, is prohibited from collecting intelligence on U.S. citizens, although several lawmakers have alleged that the agency maintains a secret repository of Americans' communications data.

Assange has appealed to the High Court in London to block his extradition to the United States to face criminal charges in a legal battle that has dragged on for more than a decade.

Monday's lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

The filing said the journalists and lawyers were required to surrender their electronic devices to Undercover Global S.L., a private security company which at the time provided security to the embassy, before their visits to Assange. The lawsuit alleged the company copied that information and provided it to the CIA, which was then headed by Pompeo.

Assange spent seven years in the embassy before being dragged out and jailed in 2019.

Pompeo and Undercover Global S.L. could not immediately be reached for comment.

Assange is wanted by U.S. authorities on 18 counts, including a spying charge, related to WikiLeaks' release of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables. His supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been victimized because he exposed U.S. wrongdoing in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq.

(Additional reporting by Jonathan Landay; Editing by Richard Chang)

Related Stories
CIA sued for allegedly surveilling Americans who met with Assange
A group of lawyers and journalists are suing the CIA, alleging that their privacy rights were violated.
From analysis to the latest developments in health, read the most diverse news in one place.
Journalists and lawyers file lawsuit against CIA over ‘spying’ on Assange visits
The WikiLeaks founder is being held in London’s Belmarsh prison as he fights extradition to the US.
Assange lawyers sue CIA for spying on them
Washington (AFP) - Lawyers for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange sued the US Central Intelligence Agency and its former director Mike Pompeo on Monday, alleging it recorded their conversations and copied data from their phones and computers.
Lawsuit alleges CIA got phone contents from Assange visitors
Two lawyers and two journalists are suing the CIA, saying the agency obtained copies of the contents of their electronic devices and helped enable the recording of their meetings with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange
Judge: Family can't sue Lebanon over dead man's captivity
A judge has denied a family’s attempt to sue Lebanon on allegations that the country’s security agency kidnapped and tortured their family member before he died in the U.S. The family’s lawsuit filed last year against Iran says Amer Fakhoury developed lymphoma and other serious medical issues while imprisoned during…
One place to find news on any topic, from hundreds of sites.
You don't have to be a spy to violate the Espionage Act – and other crucial facts about the law Trump may have broken
The federal court-authorized search of former President Donald Trump’s Florida estate has brought renewed attention to the obscure but infamous law known as the Espionage Act of 1917. A section of the law was listed as one of three potential violations under Justice Department investigation.