JonChristopher Collins – OCTOBER 3, 2021
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) discussed and planned to capture or kill WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, according to a Sept. 26 Yahoo News report; former CIA Director Mike Pompeo responded to the story.
The report states that this was the case in 2017; at the time, Assange was entering his fifth year in the Ecuadorian embassy. This reporting done by Yahoo News is rooted in “interviews with 30 former U.S. intelligence and national security officials” who knew of the U.S. government’s “efforts against WikiLeaks.” Pompeo has commented on the reporting of Yahoo News.
“I can’t say much about this other than whoever those 30 people who allegedly spoke to one of these [Yahoo News] reporters — they should all be prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency,” Pompeo said on Megyn Kelly’s podcast. The report cites a former senior counterintelligence official as saying that the talk of capturing or killing the WikiLeaks founder occurred within the “highest levels” and added that there “seemed to be no boundaries.”
Pompeo also said that “pieces” of the report by Yahoo News are true. The report states that this would include the “existence of an aggressive CIA campaign to target WikiLeaks.” That campaign followed WikiLeaks publishing the Vault 7 documents which disclosed some of the CIA’s “hacking tools and methods.” When Pompeo first answered Kelly, he said it makes for “pretty good fiction” but as previously stated he later conceded that parts of the report by Yahoo News are truthful. WikiLeaks was called “a non-state hostile intelligence service” by Pompeo in 2017.
Yahoo News states that their investigation “reveals for the first time one of the most contentious intelligence debates of the Trump presidency and exposes new details about the U.S. government’s war on WikiLeaks.” Despite the planning, the article states that “no indication” was given “that the most extreme measures targeting Assange were ever approved” partly resulting from objections raised by lawyers from the White House. Yahoo News adds that some people within the administration were worried to the point of “quietly” reaching out “to staffers and members of Congress on the House and Senate intelligence committees to alert them to what Pompeo was suggesting.” The operation’s legality was debated.
Aside from capture and assassination, the CIA had plans in case of Assange trying to flee to Moscow. According to the article, plans to stop Assange included “potential gun battles with Kremlin operatives on the streets of London, crashing a car into a Russian diplomatic vehicle transporting Assange and then grabbing him, and shooting out the tires of a Russian plane carrying Assange before it could take off for Moscow.”
WikiLeaks is viewed as a journalism service by some. Still by others, like Pompeo, WikiLeaks is viewed as a hostile intelligence service. The reports by Yahoo News regarding the uncovered plan and Pompeo’s response to Yahoo News reporting it can be read on their website.