American attorneys representing Julian Assange are suing Mike Pompeo, the former head of the Central Intelligence Agency, for his involvement in a surveillance operation that plaintiffs argue amounted to an illegal search and seizure of their private property in violation of their fourth amendment rights.
Conversations, including privileged ones between Assange and his lawyers and doctors, were allegedly recorded by a Spanish security firm before being passed on to the CIA, according to the lawsuit filed with the Southern District of New York. That firm, UC Global, and the CIA have also been named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleges that those who visited Assange were asked to turn over their phones, and the Spanish security firm then copied this data and transmitted it to the CIA.
Richard Roth, the New York-based attorney representing the plaintiffs, described how his clients only discovered that their private communications were being copied and cataloged following a criminal investigation in Spain. Margaret Ratner Kunstler, one of the plaintiffs in the case, said she believes that David Morales, the CEO of UC Global, was recruited by the CIA for this expressed purpose.
Four Americans have joined the lawsuit, including two lawyers and two journalists, but an untold number of visitors underwent the same level of surveillance. At a press conference announcing the litigation today, attorney Robert Boyle, who is consulting with Roth on this case, described the “egregious” nature of these civil rights violations.
“The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures,” he said. “That fundamental principle applies to searches and seizures directed toward U.S. citizens by U.S. law enforcement anywhere in the world.”
But, since the strategies and plans of the Assange legal team had been copied and shared with the U.S. government, not only had the rights of the American attorneys been violated but Julian Assange’s right to a fair trial had been “tainted if not destroyed.”
“As a criminal attorney I don’t think there’s anything worse than your opposition listening in on what your plans are, what you intend to do, and your conversations,” Kunstler added. “It’s a terrible thing and its treated by the United States courts as a terrible thing. The results have very often been the dismissal of the indictment.”
Julian Assange is currently facing extradition to the United States for the operation of Wikileaks which federal prosecutors claim violated the Espionage Act of 1917. He has been held in Belmarsh prison since 2019.