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Julian Assange addresses the media from the balcony of the Ecuadorian embassy in London. EPA/Facundo Arrizabalaga. Pic, here

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EXCLUSIVE, by Tess Lawrence        

The United States has wiretapped the phone and email traffic of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

It is understood that using almost limitless surveillance power, the US has spied on Australian born Julian Assange’s intentions in relation to any extradition to Sweden to answer sexual misconduct allegations and has also been monitoring his rumoured deteriorating psychological and physical health.

Longstanding and reliable sources have confirmed to me that personnel within both the UK and Australian governments and intelligence services, are now aware of this outrageous incursion and are trying to avoid a diplomatic incident and public disclosure.

Australia’s servant/master relationship with the US is well known but Britain has at least occasionally shirtfronted the US ( as with its citizens incarcerated at Guantanamo Bay ) and has concerns about the European Community’s take on Britain’s perceived too cosy relationship with the US.

It appears that the Ecuadorian Embassy is unaware of the taps, although I have been told that embassy staff are understandably suspicious and do ’ not trust the British ’ and ’ trust America even less .’

It is believed that the Ecuadorian Government will vociferously protest any US spying and only recently the embassy has attempted to allay fears about Assange’s health and reaffirmed its support of their protection of Assange.

The UK is said to be furious at this diplomatic breach by the States, given that embassies are regarded as soil sovereign to their flag and colours and it is a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ that such activity is not tolerated.

However, intelligence services of all countries have long dispensed with perhaps the somewhat mythical ’ gentlemen ’ in their ranks and for decades, bugging and debugging one another’s embassies is now a 101 spooks task in technical hygiene and housekeeping.

I have been told that the communications surveillance on Assange started shortly after he sought asylum at the embassy on August 16 this year.

It is understood that contact with his fearless mother, Christine Assange, his staunch advocate and campaigner, and other members of his family and circle of friends have not only been monitored in their contact with Assange at the embassy – but they have also been held under constant communications and other surveillance by the US on Australian soil and elsewhere.

This applies also to his legal and other advisers, and indeed to the embassy’s normal business affairs and staff communications.

There are further serious concerns because the US unauthorised surveillance compromises the British Government and questions and undermines its ability to fulfill various obligations in terms of ensuring the security and safety of all embassies on its soil.

Australia is said to have been initially unfussed at the actual bugging but is now more concerned with its burgeoning reputation for abandoning its citizens caught in strife overseas, whether they are seeking asylum or taken hostage. Australia has a series of priors in relation to abandoning and mismanaging such manoeuvres and operations.

The Gillard Government is ending the year slightly more tolerated by a politically disaffected national electorate, than when it started. 

Given that several years ago, Prime Minister and former lawyer Julia Gillard condemned the (still) uncharged Assange’s WikiLeaks activities as ’ illegal,’ the disclosure of our complicit inertia in the face of America’s continuing attempts to shove Assange, our most prodigious Prodigal Son, into an adjoining cell to poor Bradley Manning.

Appearing by videolink on ABC television’s Q and A show,

http://www.independentaustralia.net/2011/politics/julian-assange-should-the-australian-people-charge-julia-gillard-with-treason/

on March 14th last year, Julian Assange addressed Prime Minister Gillard bluntly on the subject of treason.: -

“Prime Minister, you just got back from Washington but what Australian citizens want to know is: which country do you represent?”

“Do you represent Australians and will you fight for Australian interests?

“Because it’s not the first time that you or a member of your cabinet has been into a US government building and exchanged information.”

“In fact we have intelligence that your government has been exchanging information with foreign powers about Australian citizens working for WikiLeaks.”

“So, Prime Minister, my question to you is this: When will you come clean about precisely what information you have supplied to foreign powers about Australian citizens working or affiliated with WikiLeaks?

“And if you cannot give a full and frank answer to that question, should perhaps the Australian people consider charging you with treason?”

Six days earlier on March 8th Independent Australia published an exclusive about Interpol’s Red Notice

http://www.independentaustralia.net/2011/politics/ia-investigation-interpol-and-julian-assanges-red-notice/

on Julian Assange and revealed that he and his lawyers are (still) legally entitled to access the files on him held by Interpol. We understand that Assange has been refused those documents. Why?

Like our own Parliament, normally forgoing policy in favour of cat calling, a few days ago the US Senate got momentarily busy and quietly extended the notorious Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Ammendments Act

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreign_Intelligence_Surveillance_Act

until 2017.

This basically gives the US self-permission to bug and spy on anyone in the world,

http://www.fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/

just because they feel like it, without first seeking a warrant. Nice work.

Not that the US was particularly bothered about warrants anyway.

Attempts to preserve some protection for whistleblowers and personal liberty, were rebuffed and the Bill was passed 73 for and 23 against.

More to come.