José Martín Santos, Pepe, a journalist sentenced to three years in prison for fraud, and three computer scientists from Alicante are the people who have in their possession images, videos and personal documents of the alleged espionage to Julian Assange, the refugee cyber-activist for seven years in the Embassy of Ecuador in London delivered last April 16 to the British police. Police are investigating whether a supposed Spanish communication agency is behind the extortion of the 47-year-old Australian activist, who is asked to pay three million to not broadcast his images.
Spanish agents in the kidnapping and extortion section monitor José Martín Santos and three of his collaborators after they offered the material recorded during the last two years of stay in the diplomatic legation of the founder of WikiLeaks, according to sources close to the investigation.
Assange has just filed a complaint against the alleged extortionists in the National Court, as well as against personnel of the Embassy of Ecuador in London and members of the Ecuadorian security company Promsecurity who could have participated in the events. He accuses them of a long rosary crimes: criminal organization, extortion in Spanish territory, crime against privacy, honor and against the secret of attorney-client communications. This security company replaced the Spanish Undercover Global S.L when in 2017 Lenin Moreno acceded to the presidency of Ecuador and Assange lost the favor of this Government, according to his lawyers.
It all began with a tweet published a few weeks ago in which the provision to the highest bidder of documentation on the life of Assange in the Embassy of Ecuador was announced. The name of the account holder was false, but the contact telephone and email address served Kristin Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, to contact the vendors and verify the veracity of the offer.
Pepe emailed him photographs of his computer, which contained files on the communications of Baltasar Garzón, lawyer of the cyber-activist, with Assange, the packages he received, appointments with his doctors, passports of his visits, as well as transcripts of audios of your conversations.
The price was three million euros and if the offer was not accepted, the videos and audios would begin to appear published in several media. If they wanted to pay they had to come to Spain to close the terms of the agreement. Hrafnsson asked for more evidence of the material they had and Pepe impressed him by sending him the screenshot of a video where the editor of WikiLeaks with Assange appeared in a meeting at the embassy.
He also sent legal notes from the personal folder of Aitor Martínez, a lawyer from Garzón’s office, who had been photographed his defense strategy during the recess of a hearing held at the diplomatic legation last December. In one of these notes, the finger of the person who photographed them appears, which, according to Assange’s defense, would allow his identification.
The pearl of the shipments to convince Hrafnsson of the value of the material were several audios with conversations of the activist with third parties and a folder with the WhatsApp title in which it is suspected that phone conversations of the lawyers were overturned when they visited the diplomatic headquarters and deposited them at the entrance. This would accredit the alleged use of microphones inside the embassy, something that the Government of Moreno has denied, and stands out in the lawsuit filed by Assange. Pepe asked to hold a meeting in Madrid to close the agreement.
The meeting was held on April 2. The WikiLeaks editor had rented an apartment at number 11 Núñez Arce Street to which vendors came. At 10 o’clock in the morning, according to the complaint, Pepe appeared accompanied by two people, whom he introduced as someone who spoke fluent English and a computer expert. He facilitated his real name, José Martín Santos, without revealing his status as a journalist and asked to change the place of the meeting for security reasons.
In the cafeteria of the Hotel Reina Victoria, in the Plaza de Santa Ana in Madrid, Pepe placed a computer on the table and informed Hrafnsson that a collaborator in Alicante would open by remote control the folders encrypted with the material. For three hours the eyes of the editor of WikiLeaks and the Spanish friend who accompanied him opened up after reviewing the 103 folders with videos, audios, private emails of lawyers and friends of Assange received during his stay at the Ecuadorian embassy.
A material that, in the opinion of the cyber-activist’s defense, would accredit the espionage to which he was subjected during his last two years of asylum. “At every corner of the Julian Assange embassy had been recorded, even in the most private areas,” the lawsuit said.
That same afternoon, Hrafnss On, accompanied by Baltasar Garzón, filed a complaint against the alleged extortionists in the Kidnapping and Extortion section of the Police’s Brigade of Crimes against Persons (UDEV). From there, the WikiLeaks editor called Pepe and they stayed to hold a new meeting the next day. Hrafnsson recognized the journalist José Martín Santos in the album of suspects that the agents showed him. Santos was the news director of the municipal television of Altea.
At 7:00 PM on April 3, the second meeting was held in the same hotel. Again attended Pepe accompanied this time with another computer expert course and two of the previous partners. Hrafnsson did it with Aitor Martinez, the lawyer who photocopied his defense in the Ecuadorian embassy. The Police monitored the 30 minutes of the meeting, photographed and recorded their assistants.
Although the lawyer asked several times who had ordered to spy on Assange only managed to the journalist, “the man who always took the lead,” confessed that they had the material through people inside the embassy. “They said that the embassy during Lenin Moreno’s government had given an order to gather all the information from Assange to report it to Ecuador,” said one of the attendees. During Moreno’s government, Ecuador imposed harsh restrictions on Assange’s communications.
Six days later, the editor of WikiLeaks called a press conference in London in which he unveiled the blackmail starring “several Spaniards.” Before breaking contact with Hrafnsson they sent him new emails in which they presented themselves as Agency 6, a supposed communication company from Alicante, and reduced their offer to 1.5 million. Days before they complained that they had noticed police surveillance and warned that they would “put the material under security” to avoid police action.
On the 10th the vendors uploaded a video to YouTube where they show their material with the watermark of Agency 6 and they present themselves as investigative journalists who have compiled “thousands of videos and audios” with which they will denounce “a great lie called WikiLeaks. ” In one of the tabs of Agency 6 appear the photographs of Martin Santos and the three computer scientists who the lawyer Aitor Martinez has recognized as attending the two meetings in which the material was offered.
The defense of Assange believes that the creation of this website is “a cover” of the group to discover that they are being watched by the police and having failed in their attempt to sell. This newspaper has tried unsuccessfully to contact Martin Santos and the three computer scientists to obtain his version.
The complaint explains that days later British media such as The Daily Mail have begun to broadcast videos about Assange’s private life.
The evidence showing the espionage suffered by the WikiLeaks founder contrasts with the accusation of Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno who in an interview with the British newspaper The Guardian affirmed that Assange had turned the Ecuadorian headquarters in London into “an espionage center”. He and his lawyers deny it and exhibit as evidence the blackmail to which he has been subjected.
José Martín Santos, the person who allegedly offered the recorded material to Julian Assange, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2007 for simulating the theft of furniture from the journalist Encarna Sánchez’s estate and for defrauding the owners of the house. It was assaulted.
The sentence of the Provincial Court of Alicante was ratified by the Supreme Court that did not admit the appeal of the director of the television Altea Te Ves. The ruling condemned the journalist for the crimes of damage, simulation and fraud.
Martín Santos provoked the fire in a house that he cared for a German couple in order to simulate a robbery and collect the insurance. Among the material denounced as stolen were valuable furniture from the legacy of the radio announcer. The sentence forced him to pay the owners of the house 42,000 euros for damages and another 76,000 of which he appropriated.
The journalist was tried in 2017 for raising property for not paying the amounts mentioned and creating a corporate network to avoid his obligations, according to the newspaper Información.
Martin Santos has been a regular collaborator in some local media in Alicante and directed the TV news Altea Te Ves under the baton of María José Ortiz, sister of the former mayor of that town. (I)