US contacts of embassy security firm mulled KIDNAPPING or POISONING Assange in London, witnesses tell UK court

WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange was spied on via bugs planted at London’s Ecuadorian embassy at the request of the security firm’s US contacts – who even considered poisoning or kidnapping the journalist, a UK court has heard.

Testimonies from the two anonymous witnesses were presented at the Old Bailey on Wednesday during Assange’s ongoing extradition hearing.

Both witnesses have previously worked for UC Global, a Spain-based private contractor that provided security to Ecuador’s London Embassy, where the journalist took refuge for seven years. The security company had a contract with Ecuador from 2015, and has been repeatedly accused of being the main tool of a US-orchestrated surveillance campaign on Assange.

The witnesses claimed that UC Global boss, David Morales, personally instructed the security staff to plant spy equipment to eavesdrop on Assange – and then had to upgrade it further, after a request from US “friends.”

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Moreover, his American “friends” apparently considered even more direct measures to deal with the journalist.

“On one occasion, around December 2017, Morales said the Americans were desperate and suggested more extreme measures to put an end to the situation, suggesting the door in the embassy would be left open, allowing people to kidnap him from outside, and even the possibility of poisoning him was discussed,” one of the witnesses said. “All these considerations were under consideration with contacts in the US.”

As regards UC Global itself, the firm’s activities at the Ecuadorian embassy meant they moved into the “premier league” while having “gone to the dark side,” the second witness recalled Morales saying. The UC Global boss was allegedly paid €200,000 ($234,000) per month for spying on Assange by his US contacts, the witnesses claim.

Assange was arrested by the Metropolitan Police back in April 2019, after Ecuador withdrew his asylum. The journalist has been incarcerated since then, and is currently fighting extradition to the US. If the British court rules against him, he will likely be sent across the Atlantic to face more than 17 charges under America’s Espionage Act for publishing secret materials and classified information, as well as for allegedly assisting whistleblower Chelsea Manning in hacking into US government computers.

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‘We offered Dustin and Conor a fight’: Dana White attempts to broker McGregor deal as he rubbishes links to Pacquaio fight (VIDEO)

Dana White revealed figures in Saudi Arabia’s sport community threatened to sue Conor McGregor for falsely stating links to Manny Pacquiao fight, and that he is brokering a deal for McGregor and Dustin Poirier to fight in the UFC.

White dismissed reports that McGregor and Pacquiao will compete in a high profile boxing match later this year just days after McGregor released a fight poster proclaiming that a showdown between the two combat sports icons is set to take place in the Middle East in “Winter 2020”. 

What’s more, White told Robbie Fox of Barstool Sports that unnamed figures embedded in Saudi Arabia had contacted McGregor and demanded that he take down the poster which he had posted to social media.

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I don’t know if you just saw but the Saudis went after Conor and basically said it’s a lie that that fight is happening, and you better take [the poster] down in the next 15 minutes or we’re going to sue you,” White said. 

He took it down. You don’t see the post anymore of him and Pacquiao that he had posted.”

The UFC president also addressed McGregor’s proposal for a charity MMA bout with Dustin Poirier in which he had suggested the pair meet for a fight in Dublin on December 12, with the proceeds from pay-per-view and various television network deals to be split between Poirier’s “Good Fight Foundation” and various charities which McGregor described as being close to his heart. 

White, who holds contractual rights over McGregor’s combat career, would need to sign off on any potential fight involving McGregor taking place outside the UFC.

An accord was struck to arrange the hugely-lucrative 2017 boxing match between McGregor and Floyd Mayweather and, while he didn’t expressly rule it out, White appeared to have his own solution. 

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Then he called out Poirier for a fight with Conor in Dublin for charity, so we offered them both a fight,” White said.

We offered Dustin and Conor a fight. We’re waiting to hear back from both of them.”

Within minutes of the interview appearing online Poirier tweeted in response to White saying simply, “I accept.”

There have been no further information related to the McGregor-Pacquiao rumors since they first arose last week but McGregor has long been thought open to a return to the boxing ring, while Pacquiao was quoted on the record as saying he would be interested in a fight with the Irishman.

Links for a fight between the two stars have been rife since Pacquaio signed up with Paradigm Sports Management in February – the same firm that represents McGregor. 

Elsewhere in the same Barstool Sports interview, White also confirmed reports that he had attempted to engineer a season of their reality TV series “The Ultimate Fighter'”featuring McGregor and his heated rival Khabib Nurmagomedov.

He was going to do it until Conor started doing all this sh*t,” White said of Nurmagomedov.

I felt like I was in a good place and I was going to get that done.

We were going to the ‘The Ultimate Fighter’ on ESPN and f***ing do the rematch but, you know, Conor blew that. 

Khabib said ‘f*** him.'”

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Covid-induced state of emergency will not lead to major restrictions – Czech PM

The Czech government has approved a state of emergency to tackle a rise in Covid cases. PM Andrej Babis said the restrictions won’t cause economic pain to the country, which has emerged as one of Europe’s new Covid-19 hotspots.

The 30-day long state of emergency, which begins on October 5, will allow Babis’ government greater flexibility to tighten rules on social distancing, including shutting schools in afflicted regions and limiting gatherings to small groups.

Speaking on Wednesday, the prime minister told lawmakers that he does not want to close businesses such as restaurants and bars. “We do not want to take measures as in March with a huge impact on our economy and the lives of our citizens,” Babis said.

The government fears Czechia could become an epicenter for the virus as Covid-19 cases in the landlocked republic have been growing at one of the fastest rates in Europe, second only to Spain.

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According to the interior minister, Jan Hamáček, Czechia currently has around 2,000 new Covid cases a day, while the total count of active infections stands at around 34,000. “Doing nothing in this situation is an incredible gamble,” he said.

Last Thursday, new regulations were introduced in the country, which has a population of 10.7 million. They limit restaurants and bars’ opening hours, and make wearing masks in public places mandatory.

On Sunday, around 400 people gathered in Prague to protest against the new Covid-19 regulations, displaying banners with the slogans “we don’t want vaccines, we want freedom” and “we stand for the collective immunity.” Demonstrators accused the government of spreading fear and demanded to have a choice about wearing masks.

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Japanese govt & TEPCO ordered to pay $9.5 million in damages over Fukushima disaster, high court rules

A Japanese appeals court has said that the state and Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) could have taken steps to prevent the Fukushima nuclear disaster, ruling they must pay one billion yen ($9.5 million) to 3,550 plaintiffs.

The Sendai High Court’s ruling on Wednesday upheld the earlier decision by a lower court in favor of the plaintiffs. They were forced to flee their homes after a 9-magnitude earthquake triggered a tsunami that devastated the northeast region and crippled the Fukushima nuclear plant in 2011.

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Wednesday’s ruling marks the first time that a Japanese high court has acknowledged government responsibility for the incident. Further compensation claims may now follow, as thousands of other residents were evacuated when reactors at the coastal power station overheated and released a radioactive cloud. Some people have returned home, but areas close to the plant remain closed to this day.

The high court made its decision in line with a 2017 ruling by the Fukushima District Court. It blamed both the government and TEPCO for failing to take steps to counter the huge tsunami caused by an earthquake. They should have been able to foresee the risks of a 15.7-meter-high wave at the site, based on a quake assessment issued in 2002, the ruling said. The disaster could have been prevented if the authorities had also instructed the operator to implement measures that year, according to the Fukushima court.

As of the end of August, around 55,000 people who were evacuated due to the disaster remain displaced, both within and outside Fukushima Prefecture. 

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Tokyo plans to review the ruling before deciding how to respond, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters on Wednesday. The government earlier insisted that it was impossible to predict the tsunami, or prevent the subsequent disaster. Meanwhile, TEPCO officials say the company has fulfilled its compensation responsibility under government guidelines.

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‘Inhumane & impractical’: UK interior minister in hot water over idea to ship asylum seekers 6,400km to remote Atlantic island

The UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has found herself at the center of a twitterstorm, after she reportedly mulled an idea of sending refugees to a small island in the South Atlantic while their applications are being processed.

The reason for a massive public outcry against the British interior minister was a series of reports in the British media saying that Patel ordered her ministry to explore the “possibility” of constructing an asylum processing center on Ascension Island as part of a tougher approach to illegal immigration. The Home Office also reportedly consulted the Foreign & Commonwealth Office over the idea.

Yet, the choice of location apparently left a lot to be desired. Located more than 6,400 kilometers away from the UK and some 1,600 kilometers away from the nearest continent, which is Africa, the small remote volcanic rock in the middle of the South Atlantic has a somewhat ominous reputation.

It is a high-security island with a Royal Air Force base, a British-American intelligence facility, alongside some relay stations and facilities used by NASA and the European Space agency. Previously, it also hosted a military garrison guarding Napoleon, who was exiled to the neighboring St. Helena Island, and was a staging ground, more recently, for the British military during the Falklands/Malvinas war.

St. Helena, which at some point was also considered as a possible destination for Britain’s new asylum center, has an even more sinister legacy, since it was not just the place of Napoleon’s exile but was also used as a detention center for over 6,000 Boer prisoners for a couple of years during the second Anglo-Boer War.

The Home Office eventually ditched the idea of constructing a center on Ascension Island to host refugees there – but seemingly not due to moral qualms but due instead to its impracticality, the British media has reported.

Still, social media reaction to the news was still fierce. Patel has been called a “psychopath” and was compared to the Nazis over the plan, despite the fact it was ultimately ditched, at least for the time being. Hundreds of people, including politicians and public figures, rushed to Twitter to vent their anger and frustration over the would-be policies of the Tory government.

Shadow Home Secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds immediately declared the whole idea “ludicrous” as well as “inhumane, completely impractical and wildly expensive.”

His fellow Labour MP, Alistair Carmichael, meanwhile, sarcastically noted that Ascension Island got on the possible destinations list only because a facility on Mars was considered “slightly excessive.”

Other public figures on Twitter simply denounced the plan as “truly nasty” and compared it to the Nazi’s plans to expelling Jews to the island of Madagascar. Some people also suggested sending the Tory government to some remote place instead.

The media reports came ahead of the Tory party virtual conference this Sunday, at which Patel was expected to present her take on the issue of immigration. So, far her ministry appears to be undeterred by the massive outcry since its official line to the British media has been that the Home Office is still “developing plans to reform policies and laws around illegal migration and asylum to ensure we are able to provide protection to those who need it, while preventing abuse of the system and the criminality associated with it.”

Some other reports suggested that another location, closer to the UK, could be chosen to host the center instead. No other locations have been named so far. Nonetheless, the UK had experience in interning German nationals on the Isle of Man during WWII, for example.

London would certainly not be the first administration to do this nowadays, either. Australia has been employing a similar practice involving sending asylum seekers to offshore detention centers on islands in the South Pacific, at least since the 1980s. The controversial practice has been repeatedly criticized by various human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch.

Now, with the UK once-again mulling a similar idea, some media rushed to assume the whole issue being a result of influence that former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott exerted on London. The politician, known for his tough stance on migration, is currently serving as a trade adviser to the British government.

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