NEWS & ANALYSIS

Pompeo, CIA Discussed Kidnapping, Assassinating Julian Assange


Shortly after President Trump took office, then-CIA Director Mike Pompeo and other top officials discussed a plot to either kidnap or assassinate WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. 

Due to differences of legal opinion, the plan never took flight, according to a report published Sunday, per BizPacReview.

According to the Yahoo News report, while Assange was in his fifth year staying at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2017, the CIA was plotting to kidnap him. This sparked debate within the Trump administration over the legality and practicality of the mission. 

“Some senior officials inside the CIA and the Trump administration even discussed killing Assange, going so far as to request ‘sketches’ or ‘options’ for how to assassinate him,” the report said. 

These discussions allegedly “occurred ‘at the highest levels’ of the Trump administration, said a former senior counterintelligence official.” 

“There seemed to be no boundaries,” the official said. The discussions “were part of an unprecedented CIA campaign directed against WikiLeaks and its founder.” 

The discussions came after WikiLeaks published secret CIA hacking tools, known as “Vault 7,” which the agency concluded contributed to the “largest data loss in CIA history.” 

In 2019, Assange was charged with violating the Espionage Act. He was charged with 17 counts of publishing or receiving diplomatic and military documents from classified sources. 

“The CIA’s fury at WikiLeaks led Pompeo to publicly describe the group in 2017 as a ‘non-state hostile intelligence service,’” the report said. 

“More than just a provocative talking point, the designation opened the door for agency operatives to take far more aggressive actions, treating the organization as it does adversary spy services,” former officials told the outlet.