WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently imprisoned in London, but a Yahoo News investigation suggests things could have gone much worse for him. The story asserts that the CIA under Mike Pompeo and former President Trump considered kidnapping or even killing Assange while he was holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Pompeo and agency leaders were "seeing blood" because WikiLeaks embarrassed the CIA by releasing secret agency hacking tools known collectively as "Vault 7," according to the story, which is based on interviews with 30 former US intelligence and security officials. Details:
- Assassination: Three former officials say Trump himself asked in 2017 about the legalities and logistics of assassinating Assange. However, one official describes the discussion more as "spitballing" than as a serious proposal. Still, the story says CIA execs asked for and received "sketches" of assassination plans.
- Trump denies: "It's totally false, it never happened," the former president tells Yahoo of plans to kill Assange. "In fact, I think he's been treated very badly." The CIA and Pompeo didn't comment.
- Escape plot: The story says the CIA also got wind of a 2017 plot in which Russia would help Assange escape to Moscow, and the agency began plotting scenarios to thwart the escape. "Those 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."
- Assange's lawyer: He believes the kidnapping and assassination plans and calls them "outrageous." Attorney Barry Pollack adds: "My hope and expectation is that the UK courts will consider this information and it will further bolster its decision not to extradite to the US."
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