GCHQ talks of Assange sex scandal "fit-up"

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has revealed some instant messages from Britain’s espionage agency, GCHQ, which discuss the possibility of the Swedish sex scandal being a “fit-up”.

Julian Assange is wanted for questioning over allegations of sexual assault in Sweden. He believes it is part of a ploy that would ultimately see him extradited to the United States, where he could be detained.

Assange, who is essentially on house arrest in London’s Ecuadorian embassy, talked about  the messages on a Spanish TV programme, Salvados, on Sunday.

He and his team have been applying for information from GCHQ, the British intelligence and espionage agency, and while denied access to classified documents, some instant messages about Assange were unclassified. The agency is exempt from Freedom of Information requests, however, there are provisions in the data protection act that allow people to retrieve personal information held on them.

Assange mentioned a message from September last year. Reading to the interviewer, Assange claimed it said: “They are trying to arrest him on suspicion of XYZ, it is definitely a fit-up, their timings are too convenient right after Cablegate”.

Cablegate refers to Wikileaks’ enormous dumping of diplomatic cables, which embarrassed the United States in particular and made Assange himself a target for the political establishment. Senior heads of state have since labelled him a terrorist and even called for his death. 

Assange claimed during that interview that none of the data Wikileaks released over the last six years has caused harm to a single person around the world. The weight behind the messages is up in the air – it is not known whether the conversations were a casual exchange or indicative of a wider feeling in the agency. GCHQ said in a statement the messages were purely personal, and are not representative of it as an organisation.

A second conversation called Assange “highly optimistic” and a “fool” for expecting chargse against him to be dropped.

“He reckons he will stay in the Ecuadorian embassy for six to 12 months when the charges against him will be dropped, but that is not really how it works now is it?” the messages read. “He’s a fool, a highly optimistic fool”.

GCHQ confirmed to the Guardian that the agency responded to a request. “The disclosed material includes personal comments between some members of staff and do not reflect GCHQ’s policies or views in any way,” it said.