A hidden microphone was found in Ecuador’s London embassy, where Wikileaks founder Julian Assange currently takes haven. The bug wasn’t found where Assange lives and works but was instead found in Ana Alban’s, Ecuadorean ambassador to the United Kingdom, office.
Although it wasn’t until this week when embassy officials came forth and told the press about the bug, the was found in mid-June. During that same time, Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino was in London to meet with British Foreign Secretary William Hague to discuss Julian Assange’s holding situation. Patino clarified why embassy officials withheld the information saying “I did not bring this up before because I didn’t want my visit to London to hold talks on Julian Assange to be confused with accusations over this surveillance device found in the ambassador’s office.”
Numerous surveillance experts called to investigate the bug have noted that the bugging was unlikely by the hand of any state or government agency. An expert on law enforcement covert intelligence-gathering said that the bug found was what’s known as a “socket plug.” The expert further noted that “We do not do plug sockets, that’s old hat. It’s the first place people look.”
It is still unclear who planted the bug, but Patino believes United Kingdom investigation company Surveillance Group Limited was behind the bugging. The Surveillance Group Limited is an independently-owned “spy contractor” that is hired by outside groups to perform intelligence gathering operations on behalf of said outside groups.
Surveillance Group Limited released a statement on their website denying all allegations made by Patino that allude to the contractor’s involvement. In the release written by company CEO Timothy Young, he wrote that “This is a wholly untrue accusation.”
Ecuadorean foreign officials are now seeking cooperation with the British government to investigate the matter and discover who is behind the embassy’s bugging.
Joshua de Leon is a writer and researcher with Ring of Fire.