(TMU) – U.S. intelligence assets and a private security company plotted to abduct or even poison Julian Assange during the WikiLeaks co-founder’s seven-year stay at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, a British court has been told.
The discussed plans were allegedly part of a wide-ranging and complex spying operation that targeted Assange and any of his visitors, according to former employees of Spanish security firm Undercover Global.
Two anonymous witnesses who worked for UC Global told London’s Old Bailey court that from 2017 onwards, after the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, American intelligence agencies stepped up their surveillance of Assange. The witnesses had been granted anonymity due to fears for their safety, reports The Guardian.
Assange’s confidential meetings with lawyers were recorded by microphones, his fingerprints were lifted from a drinking glass, and moles hatched a scheme to obtain the nappy of a baby who was being brought to the embassy on routine visits.
According to UC Global founder and director David Morales, “the Americans” sought to establish paternity but called off the plan when the then-employee tipped off the child’s mom.
The witnesses, who are apparently equally afraid of Morales and the U.S. Government, allege that their former director was won over to “the dark side” before giving instructions to install sophisticated cameras with advanced audio recording capabilities in order to secretly record Assange’s conversations with visitors, and especially his attorneys.
One of the witnesses claims that after Morales went on a business trip to Las Vegas in July 2016 to promote his security firm, he obtained a “flashy contract” with the Las Vegas Sands, owned by close Trump ally and billionaire campaign financier Sheldon Adelson.
“After returning from one of his trips to the United States, David Morales gathered all the workers in the office in Jerez and told us that ‘We have moved up and from now on we will be playing in the big league,'” the witness explained.
The other anonymous former employee claims that in December 2017, “the Americans were desperate” and had demanded that “more extreme measures should be employed against the ‘guest’ to put an end to the situation of Assange’s permanence in the embassy.”
Assange had been living there since 2012, when then Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa granted political asylum to the Australian amid the British government’s attempts to detain him and extradite him to Sweden over a sexual assault case that was subsequently dropped.
The witness said an idea was hatched whereby the door to the embassy would be intentionally left open, “which would allow the argument that this had been an accidental mistake, which would allow persons to enter from outside the embassy and kidnap the asylee”.
Another plan involved the possibility that Assange could be poisoned.
“All of these suggestions Morales said were under consideration during his dealing with his contacts in the United States,” the witness said.
The witness claims that Morales requested that he install a microphone in a fire extinguisher in the embassy’s meeting room, as well as in the bathroom where Assange was holding meetings out of the well-grounded concern he was being targeted in a spying operation.
“I used a nearby socket to conceal a microphone in a cable in the toilet in the back of the embassy,” the witness said.
“This was never removed, and may still be there.”
Lawyers for the U.S. Government have not contested the anonymous allegations but have shrugged them off as “wholly irrelevant” to the matter being considered, namely Assange’s likely extradition to the United States. The extradition hearings had been delayed due to the ongoing pandemic, but will conclude by week’s end.
After being removed from the embassy by police in April 2019, Assange has been held at the maximum-security HMP Belmarsh prison.
The U.S. government is seeking the extradition of Assange to the United States on 17 charges, including allegations of conspiracy to hack into computers in the U.S. and violating the Espionage Act. Analysts say he would face a sentence of up to 175 years in prison or even the death penalty if found guilty of the charges.
Assange’s defenders claim that he is simply being sought due to his role in the release of scandalous information implicating Washington in a range of crimes, including serious war crimes and violations of international law.
Ex-cop who showed off nude photos of murder victim Lauren McCluskey faces no charges
Lauren McCluskey, a student at the University of Utah, was murdered by a stalker in 2018 after police officers largely ignored her pleas for help. Instead, the officers acquired nude photos of the young woman and shared them between themselves.
And now, two years later, the former University of Utah officer who disseminated explicit photos of the 21-year-old victim has been cleared of any criminal charges.
On Thursday, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office announced that former officer Miguel Dera would not be prosecuted despite the clear misconduct of him acquiring and then sharing the photos of McCluskey.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill admitted that the officer’s actions were “definitely reckless,” but no state laws exist on the books that address such offenses, reports the Salt Lake Tribune.
“We realized there was no real statute we could use for this case,” Gill explained. “We’re incensed like everyone else by the behavior. It was inappropriate. But if there’s not a statute, there’s nothing we can do.”
McCluskey was shot to death in 2018 by Melvin Shawn Rowland, 38, who had been harassing and blackmailing the young student for weeks prior to her killng. Rowland took his own life hours after murdering McCluskey, according to police.
The two had briefly dated in 2018 before McCluskey ended the relationship after finding out Rowland had lied about his age and criminal past. Rowland was a convicted sex offender who proceeded to stalk and extort McCluskey.
When McCluskey reached out to campus police to end the harassment, Deras was assigned to the case. McCluskey provided the explicit photos to the officer in hopes that he would use them for the investigation.
Instead, Deras shared the photos of McCluskey with at least three of his male coworkers without any work-related reason, according to an investigation by the Utah Department of Public Safety. The DPS report also found that lewd comments were allegedly made about the images.
In the days prior to her death, McCluskey complained about campus police failing to follow up or update her, according to 911 transcripts.
While the district attorney claims that “no real statute” could have been used to pursue justice in the case, Gill all-too-conveniently waited until precisely one day after the state could have filed misdemeanor charges against the former officer for abusing evidence. However, the statute of limitations has now expired.
“We just got it so late and were limited in what options we had,” Gill said.
Family attorney Jim McConkie said that Lauren McCluskey was also abused while she was alive by the officer, who saw fit to share her photos and brag about them without her consent mere days before she was murdered.
“What Gill is saying to women with this decision is, ‘We can’t help you. Don’t come to us,’” McConkie said.
McCluskey’s parent’s, Jill and Matt McCluskey, have expressed outrage about the failure to file charges.
“Instead of helping her, Deras showed her images to other male officers and bragged about it,” the parents said. “A consequence of Gill’s decision is that women will hesitate to report extortion and harassment for fear that the private information they provide will be compromised, or even leered at, by officers for reasons unrelated to her case.”
“She’s done”: Unreleased video shows bloody, chaotic scene after botched Breonna Taylor raid
In the video, officers with the Louisville Metro Police Department SWAT team can be seen clearing her apartment as her body laid motionless in her hallway for several minutes. The officers eventually check for a pulse before stating, repeatedly, “She’s done.”
The footage is just one small component of the over 250 videos and more than 4,000 pages of documents from the case was released Wednesday, and comes as Taylor’s family and community advocates continue to demand transparency and justice for the 26-year-old woman.
In addition to revealing the disturbing details about the botched raid, the video footage also raises fresh questions about why police targeted her home in an effort to prosecute her ex-boyfriend.
Following the shooting, one police lieutenant who arrived at the scene told investigators, “something really bad happened.”
In another video, Taylor’s boyfriend Kenneth Walker can be heard answering an officer who demanded to know who else might be in their apartment.
“Nobody, my girlfriend’s dead,” he replied.
Walker had just walked out of the apartment and surrendered to SWAT officers, who can be heard saying “The female is supposedly the one that’s shot.”
After officers cleared various parts of the apartment for several minutes, they finally addressed Taylor’s body, asking “Ma’am, can you hear us?”
Another officer checked her pulse before declaring, “She’s done.”
Another officer can be heard telling the others not to turn their body cameras off, and as he examines the bullet casings strewn across the floor he says, “Is that theirs? No that’s ours, the only casings look like 9mils.”
Taylor was shot at least six times in the undercover raid by three officers while shade and Walker had been sleeping. The police had a no-knock search warrant intended to find Jamarcus Glover, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend who was wanted on drug charges.
Louisville Metro Police deployed a battering ram to force their way into the apartment before Walker fired a warning shot that struck an officer. Police responded by firing a barrage of rounds into the apartment, including 10 rounds fired blindly by Officer Brett Hankison, who has since been fired.
Walker maintains that the officers failed to identify themselves, but police claim that they did so clearly.
In the video, Walker is in a distraught state and tells the police why he fired as they broke into the apartment, saying “We didn’t know who it was.”
An officer responded by telling Walker that they announced themselves three times. However, Walker and other neighbors deny that the officers announced themselves during the no-knock raid.
Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron has also supported the police claim and attempted to argue that the warrant was not a no-knock because police supposedly announced their presence before entering the apartment.
The video footage depicts a grisly scene, with bloodstains and bullet holes across the walls while Taylor’s lifeless body lies on the floor.
In a phone recording also released on Wednesday, Taylor’s ex-boyfriend Glover tells the mother of his child, “Me and Bre ain’t been around each other in over two months, damn near two months.”
Glover had been arrested on the night prior to the early-morning raid on Taylor’s home, raising questions about why police executed the fatal no-knock raid to begin with.
Contrary to disinformation being spread by police supporters and online conspiracy theorists, police found no drugs at Taylor’s apartment and she was not a target of the LMPD investigation.
On Sept. 23, a Kentucky grand jury announced three counts of first-degree “wanton endangerment” in the first degree against former officer Hankinson for blindly firing into another apartment. A $15,000 cash bond was also attached to the charges, none of which are directly related to the killing of Taylor.
Attorney General Cameron said that the grand jury charged the former detective because the shots passed through her apartment walls into a neighboring apartment, endangering the lives of her three neighbors present at the time.
The other two officers involved in the raid, Sgt. John Mattingly and Det. Myles Cosgrove, face zero charges and remain on the force.
Taylor’s family is continuing to demand that the attorney general recuse himself from the case and be replaced by a special prosecutor. Cameron has also opposed the lifting of a gag order from the grand jurors after two members of the jury sought legal help that would allow them to go public.
Oklahoma jailers tortured inmates by shackling them to wall, playing “Baby Shark” on repeat
(TMU) – Three former employees at a jail in Oklahoma are facing charges of cruel treatment of prisoners after they forced inmates to listen for hours to “Baby Shark,” the infamous children song beloved by toddlers and loathed by parents.
According to inmates, Oklahoma County Jail detention officers Christian Miles and Gregory Butler, both 21, along with former supervisor Christopher Hendershott, 50, conspired to cruelly treat the prisoners when shackling them and securing them to the wall while subjecting them to the song on repeat, resulting in “undue emotional stress on the inmates who were most likely already suffering” from being restrained against the wall.
The three former jailers face misdemeanor counts of cruelty to prisoners, corporal punishment to an inmate, and conspiracy, according to Oklahoma County District Court records.
On at least five separate occasions this past November and December involving five separate inmates, Miles and Butler placed the inmate in an empty attorney visitation room before shackling them to the wall, forcing them to stand for up to two hours at a time, while blaring “Baby Shark” on repeat from tinny computer speakers.
The two jail employees saw this as a joke, and Hendershott failed to take any disciplinary measures or halt the cruel treatment when he heard complaints from inmates.
The case is eerily reminiscent to the treatment of terror suspects during the so-called “Global War on Terror” during the George W. Bush era, when CIA agents and interrogators at Camp X-Ray detention camp on Guantanamo Bay Naval Base would play music on repeat for hours as a means of psychologically torturing prisoners, according to the 2014 Senate Intelligence Committee report.
Video surveillance footage from the Oklahoma County Jail also depicted the officers carrying out the sadistic acts.
Oklahoma District Attorney David Prater said that the three employees acted “conjointly, willfully and wrongfully” in a “cruel or inhuman manner” to inflict further stress and psychological pain on the inamtes.
Prater later told The Oklahoman that he “would have preferred filing a felony on this behavior,” but the facts wouldn’t fit the charge.
“It was unfortunate that I could not find a felony statute to fit this fact scenario,” he added.
“Baby Shark” is an infamous campfire sing-along which became a viral hit after South Korean company Pinkfong produced a music video of the sticky, repetitive song. The song, which begins with the lyric “Baby shark, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo,” also became the unofficial theme song for the Washington Nationals of Major League Baseball, who won the 2019 World Series but failed to qualify for the expanded post-season this year.
However, the dreaded earworm of a song has also become associated with more nefarious uses.
Last year, officials in West Palm Beach, Florida, earned worldwide notoriety after they weaponized the song as an anti-homeless measure to prevent the unhoused from sleeping on city property alongside other songs like the the auto-tuned abomination Raining Tacos.
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