Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responded to Yahoo News report that CIA officials discussed a plan to kidnap or even assassinate the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange. Pompeo, who also served as the head of the CIA between 2017 and 2018, said in an interview with Megyn Kelly that those sources who disclosed the information to the reporters should be “prosecuted for speaking about classified activity inside the Central Intelligence Agency”.
In the interview, Pompeo dismissed the story, saying that the report published by Yahoo News “makes for very good fiction” and that the journalists who made the article should “write a novel”. Pompeo contested the credibility of the reporters who broke the story, Michael Isikoff saying that maybe he “made up” the alleged interviews of more than 30 intelligence officers that were highlighted in the article.
Pompeo and Trump deny plotting an assasination attempt on Assange
Pompeo also blasted WikiLeaks, saying that the website is “in fact a non-state intelligence service” and that their actions are not “good reporting” but that they are “working to steal secrets from the United States of America” and that he and the Trump Administration had a duty to protect American information.
Although the former Secretary of State said that the report would make good fiction when pressed by Meghan Kelly about the veracity of the article Pompeo conceded that “there are pieces of it that are true”. However, he clarified that the CIA never acted neither “conducted planning” to violate U.S. law, which prohibits the agency to carry out assassinations.
Pompeo’s declarations, a clear condemnation of Wikileaks and its co-founder Julian Assange, are in stark contrast with former President Trump’s comments on the same issue, who besides denying the story also said that he thinks that the controversial Australian publisher or spymaster (depending who you ask) had been treated “very badly.” When asked about the veracity of the Yahoo News report. Pompeo, on the contrary, thinks that it was Assange who had “treated America and its people very badly”.
Although Trump might currently show some sympathy with the co-founder of Wikileaks, it was his administration that called the website a “hostile intelligence service” back in 2017. Additionally, Trump was also criticized when his presidency failed to issue a presidential pardon to Assange during his last day in office in 2021.
Who is Julian Assange and why is he controversial?
The article Pompeo was referring to is an extensive exclusive report made by Yahoo News detailing the inner workings of the CIA’s alleged plans to retaliate against Mr. Assange due to his exposure to thousands of sensitive documents. Assange has been under the radar of American intelligence since at least 2010 when his website Wikileaks published thousands of confidential material from American intelligence agencies to the public.
That same year Sweden issued an extradition request against Assange due to allegations of sexual assault brought against him, which lead to his arrest in London. Soon after, Assange was able to post bail and he eventually requested asylum and resided in the embassy of Ecuador from 2012 to 2017 as he said he was afraid of being deported to the United States if he were to be tried.
Assange’s conflict with the United States government got even worst in 2017 when Wikileaks made public another large trove of CIA classified materials that detailed the many techniques and tools the agency uses to hack smartphones, computers, and other electronic devices. The documents, commonly called “vault 7”, are considered to be one of the largest leaks in the history of the CIA.
However, Assange’s asylum was revoked by Ecuador in early 2019 after then-president Lenin Moreno said that the Australian was “still linked to WikiLeaks and therefore involved in interfering in internal affairs of other states”. Soon after, the British police arrested and the courts found him guilty of “failing to surrender to the court”, the United States has requested the UK to extradite him so he could be tried for the leaking of classified material.
Yahoo’s article explained in much detail how the highest levels of the U.S. government, including Mike Pompeo, allegedly pushed hard for planning an abduction of Assange out of the Ecuadorian embassy as an act of “revenge” over the Vault 7 leaks. Although some of the sources claimed that Pompeo asked for the agency to present options for the killing of Assange, this claim was not backed by other of the sources quoted in the story and Yahoo could not confirm if these alleged plans reached the White House.