Spain’s National Court in Madrid is hearing testimony today from the lawyer who secretly had two children by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange while he lived in Ecuador’s London embassy.
Stella Morris, a legal adviser to Assange and his fiance, revealed earlier this year that she had children with him during his seven years in the embassy, and is testifying today during the investigation into whether a Spanish company was hired to spy on Assange during this time.
The court is investigating whether David Morales, a Spaniard, and his Undercover Global S.L. security agency invaded the privacy of Assange and his visitors during the seven years the WikiLeaks founder spent in the Embassy.
The company is accused of secretly recording their meetings. The intelligence that Morales’ company collected is suspected of being handed over to third parties, according to court papers.
Meanwhile in London the administrative hearing of Julian Assange’s extradition case is also set to be held today ahead of his extradition hearing on September 7.
Among those set to face the court’s questions Monday were prominent Spanish lawyer Baltasar Garzon, who is part of Assange’s legal team; former Ecuadorean consul in London Fidel Narvaez; and Morris. Staff of the Spanish security company are due to testify on Tuesday.
Assange, whose lawyers filed a complaint at the court to trigger the investigation, is in a British prison after being removed from the embassy last year. He is fighting extradition to the United States, where he faces espionage charges over the activities of WikiLeaks.
The court is conducting an investigation, begun last year, before deciding whether there is evidence of wrongdoing that warrants a trial.
Undercover Global, also known as UC Global, was hired by Ecuador’s government to provide security at the Ecuadorean embassy in London between 2015 and 2018. Its main task was to secure the property’s perimeter, including the deployment of security staff, due to Assange’s presence inside, court papers say.
According to the National Court summons seen by The Associated Press, the preliminary investigation has raised suspicions that, under the cover of his security work, Morales used bugging devices and video equipment to record Assange’s meetings with visitors.
They included his lawyers, politicians, journalists, medical staff, Ecuadorean diplomats, the former head of Ecuador’s National Intelligence Service, Rommy Vallejo, and longtime Republican congressman for California Dana Rohrabacher.
Morales passed on the recordings to third parties who are not yet identified.
However, the court papers note allegations that the intelligence was passed to Zohar Lahav, described by Assange’s lawyers as a security officer at Las Vegas Sands Corp., a U.S. casino and resort company based in Nevada. The court says it has no contact information for Lahav.
The court refused a request by Assange’s legal team to summon as witnesses Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson and the company’s Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer Brian Nagel. The court papers gave no explanation for the refusal.
Assange’s legal team says the court has asked U.S. authorities to question Lahav and Rohrabacher on its behalf.
Morales also asked his company’s staff to take Assange’s fingerprints from a glass and is suspected of copying the ID documents of visitors, the summons says.
The court is investigating UC Global’s bank accounts, international travel records, cellphone, email and Internet access records, and its online purchases of recording equipment.
Morales was arrested last year and granted conditional release.
Assange, who is currently serving time at a high-security prison in Britain, testified by videoconference before the National Court in December, and next week, the court has called another seven witnesses, including Garzon.
The lawsuit is key to Assange’s efforts to fight an extradition request by the US Justice Department which put him on trial for leaking hundreds of thousands of secret US military and diplomatic documents in 2010.
He risks 175 years in prison if convicted.
His extradition hearing will take place in London on September 7.