British Surveillance Firm Denies Bugging Ecuador's Embassy
A British private surveillance company denied on Thursday (July 4) that it had bugged the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been living.
Ecuador's Foreign Minister Ricardo Patino made the allegation, against the Surveillance Group Ltd in Quito on Wednesday (July 3).
Patino says the microphone was found in the office of Ambassador Ana Alban at the time of his visit to the embassy on June 16 to meet with Assange, who has been granted asylum by Ecuador.
The Surveillance Group's CEO Timothy Young rejected Patino's allegations.
[Timothy Young, CEO, Surveillance Group]:
"This is completely untrue. The Surveillance Group do not have and have never been engaged in any activities of this nature. We've not been contacted by any member of the Ecuadorean government and our first notification about this incident was via the press this morning. This is a wholly untrue assertion."
Patino described the Surveillance Group as one of the biggest private investigation and undercover surveillance companies in the United Kingdom.
Assange risks arrest if he steps out of the embassy, because he has breached his bail terms in Britain.
He sought refuge inside the embassy in June 2012 to avoid extradition to Sweden, to face allegations of rape and sexual assault.
Assange fears that if sent to Sweden he could be extradited from there to the United States, to face potential charges over the release of thousands of confidential U.S. documents on WikiLeaks.
The topic of covert state surveillance has been at the top of the global news agenda, since a series of leaks last month by former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
WikiLeaks is trying to assist Snowden, who is believed to be stranded at an airport in Moscow and seeking asylum in a variety of countries, including Ecuador.