Among the more whackadoodle developments to come out of Julian Assange’s UK extradition trial is the Guardian report that Sheldon Adelson’s Sands Company paid a Spanish company to plant surveillance gear inside the Ecuadorean Embassy to spy on Assange while he was holed up there. I have asked the Sands if they have any statement about the company’s involvement in this caper and they have not answered. Grayzone and El Pais have reported this story in depth.
The company was originally hired by the Ecuadorean government to provide security for the embassy facility. But then this happened:
Morales [the company’s owner] attended a security sector trade fair in Las Vegas, where he obtained a contract with Las Vegas Sands, a company owned by the US billionaire Sheldon Adelson. The American was a friend and supporter of Donald Trump, who was a presidential candidate at the time.
It’s hard to know why the last sentence referring to Trump is here. Was Trump mentioned in court? Did Adelson hire the Spaniards as a cut-out for Trump himself or some intelligence official in the campaign retinue? Did the CIA take over the operation once Trump was elected?
Subsequent passages in the report indicate that the security firm was dealing directly with U.S. intelligence officials:
Morales was said to have returned to the company’s offices in Jerez in the south of Spain and announced: “We will be playing in the big league.” The witness added that Morales said the company had switched over to what the latter described as “the dark side”. This allegedly involved cooperating with the US authorities, who Morales said would ensure that they obtained contracts all over the world.
Was there a handoff somewhere along the way between Adelson’s involvement and U.S. intelligence? If so, this indicates that the Sands acted as a proxy for U.S. intelligence in this case. A shocking development. But it would make perfect sense for Adelson to be eager to do favors for Trump and the feds since he’s been under regular scrutiny by the Justice Department for his nefarious dealings in Macau, where he was accused of turning a blind eye to the hiring of prostitutes to service his high-roller Chinese gambling clients.
A further indication that U.S. intelligence, rather than Adelson, was later directing the operation:
On one occasion in 2017, they also recalled Morales saying that his American contacts had suggested that “more extreme measures” should be deployed against visitors to Assange.
“There was a suggestion that the door of the embassy would be left open allowing people to enter from the outside and kidnap or poison Assange,” the court was told. The witness alleged Morales said these suggestions were under consideration with his contacts in the US.
I hope to God Sheldon Adelson wouldn’t want to touch murdering Julian Assange. This definitely seems like a plot the CIA would cook up. If so, they have a great deal to answer for. Remember when the Church Committee outlawed the CIA assassinations of foreign leaders? I guess that’s now a thing of the past. We can assassinate not only major figures like Imad Mugniyeh and Qasim Soleimani, we can also murder meddlesome whistleblowers like Julian Assange.
Adelson Media Outlet Offers Home to Israeli Sexual Abuser
In other news related to Sheldon Adelson: one of the powerful Israeli males who suffered ignominious downfall as a result of the #MeToo movement was former Haaretz columnist Ari Shavit. I was the first journalist to associate an account written by a Los Angeles Jewish journalist naming an anonymous Israel abuser, with Shavit himself. Though Haaretz dithered about what to do with Shavit, a second accusation against him was made by a J Street staffer who he abused during a promotion tour for his popular book, My Promised Land. At that point, Haaretz had enough and he was fired.
The HBO documentary promoted with such fanfare in 2015, was quietly shelved. HBO refused to comment when asked about the fate of the project. Shavit tried to rehabilitate himself. He announced he was a changed man. That he’d examined his life and faults deeply and learned from his mistakes. He promised a new book that would reveal all this to a public supposedly eager to learn about his “voyage.” The 92nd Street Y joined in this effort by inviting him to headline and Israel Independence Day program it sponsored.
But there has been no subsequent talk of the book. Shavit appears periodically as a guest on Israeli TV and he’s been relegated to writing columns for the far-right, Adelson-owned, Makor Rishon. It’s a dark irony that a gambling mogul known for looking the other way as his Macau resort arranged for prostitutes to “service” their high-roller Chinese clients would provide a lifeline to a sexual predator like Shavit. Boys will be boys. Boys protect boys. Not women, that’s for sure.
Silverstein has published Tikun Olam since 2003, It exposes the secrets of the Israeli national security state. He lives in Seattle, but his heart is in the east. He publishes regularly at Middle East Eye, the New Arab, and Jacobin Magazine. His work has also appeared in Al Jazeera English, The Nation, Truthout and other outlets.