Bugging device found in Ecuador’s UK embassy where Assange lives
July 4, 2013 8 Comments
By JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
The government of Ecuador has announced the discovery of a “hidden listening device” inside its embassy in London, United Kingdom, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has taken refuge. Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Integration, Ricardo Patino, said the device was discovered during a security sweep on June 14, in preparation for his official visit there. Speaking during a press conference on Wednesday in Ecuadorean capital Quito, Patino told journalists that the microphone was discovered inside the office of Ambassador Ana Alban, Ecuador’s envoy to the UK. Patino arrived in London two days later and met with Assange, as well as with Britain’s Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, William Hague, to discuss Assange’s case. The WikiLeaks founder has been hosted inside the Ecuadorean embassy for over a year, resisting extradition to Sweden, where his is facing charges of rape and sexual assault. Assange denies the charges are valid and maintains that the Swedish government is intent on extraditing him to the United States, where he is likely to face more charges over Cablegate. This is the term commonly used to describe the unauthorized release in 2010 by WikiLeaks of thousands of classified cables sent to the US State Department by American diplomatic missions around the world. Patino told journalists on Wednesday that he “regretted to have to inform” them about the discovery, which he characterized as “another instance of declining ethics in the international relations between governments”. He added that he had decided not to reveal the discovery during his London visit last month, because he did not want the purpose of his trip to be obscured by the incident. But in his 40-minute press conference, which is available on YouTube, Patino said that the Ecuadorian government would soon disclose the identity of the country or countries believed to be behind the placement of the listening device. Reuters, which carried the story on its website, contacted the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London, but officials there declined comment on Patino’s allegations. The news agency also contacted the office of the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, but was told that there would be “no comment on security issues”.