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House committee looks into alleged Trump-era plot to kidnap Julian Assange

House committee looks into alleged Trump-era plot to kidnap Julian Assange
‘We are seeking information about it now,’ says Democrat Adam Schiff

The House Intelligence Committee is looking into an alleged CIA plot to kidnap Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in 2017, the committee’s chairman says.

“We have sought information from the agencies about those allegations and whether they are correct, any part of them are correct, or whether they’re incorrect,” Rep Adam Schiff told Skullduggery, a Yahoo News podcast. “I can’t comment on what we’ve heard back yet.”

Mr Schiff added that he was not briefed about the alleged plan at the time, and first heard of the would-be kidnapping from Yahoo News’ reporting on it.

According to Yahoo, anonymous US officials told the news site that four years ago, discussions took place “at the highest levels” of the Trump administration on how to potentially kidnap or even assassinate Mr Assange.

Former president Donald Trump has denied ever considering such a plot.

“It’s totally false, it never happened,” Mr Trump said.

In 2017, the Wikileaks publisher was living in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he was avoiding extradition to Sweden over accusations of sexual assault. (Mr Assange denied the allegations, and the investigation was eventually dropped.)

In March, Wikileaks published Vault 7, a huge trove of secret CIA documents related to the agency’s intelligence gathering methods. According to Yahoo’s sources, this enraged the CIA’s leaders, including its then-new director, Mike Pompeo.

“They were seeing blood,” a former Trump administration official told Yahoo, adding that the agency’s top officials “were completely detached from reality because they were so embarrassed about Vault 7.”

In response, CIA and other administration officials began requesting “sketches” or “options” on how to assassinate Mr Assange.

“There seemed to be no boundaries,” one former senior counterintelligence official told Yahoo.

There is no evidence that any such plan was ever approved, Yahoo reported. But some in the administration were so concerned that they began leaking information about the scheme to members of Congress – although not, apparently, to Mr Schiff.

“I was not briefed on what your reporting and others have described at the time,” the congressman told Yahoo. “We are seeking information about it now.”

The Independent has reached out to the CIA for comment.