Wikileaks Founder Julian Assange Tells Russia-Aligned Media the FBI Is Spying on Him

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange has accused his hosts at the Ecuadorian Embassy of spying on him for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to reports.

Assange has been hiding in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 in order to avoid extradition to the United States, where he would almost certainly face charges for the publication of classified information. Ecuador has now said that they would like the Wikileaks founder to leave. Assange has reportedly clashed on numerous occasions with embassy staff, who accuse him of having poor hygiene and of failing to feed his pet cat, and some officials say that he is a drain on embassy resources.

The Venezuela-based broadcaster Telesur, which is closely aligned with the Russian state-run news outlet RT, reported on Friday that Assange had spoken with reporters via video conference and said he feared he was under surveillance in the embassy. He also said that the FBI is pressuring Ecuador to have him extradited to the U.S., and that the embassy is sending surveillance footage of him to the FBI, according to Telesur.

Wikileaks originally touted itself as a defender of transparency but is increasingly seen by critics as a tool of the Russian government. The organization published emails stolen from Democratic Party officials by Russian hackers and released the emails at a time that would be especially harmful for the presidential campaign of then-Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. Assange also reportedly attempted to obtain a Russian visa before he ultimately sought refuge in the Ecuadorian embassy.

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Julian Assange steps out to speak to the media from the balcony of the Ecuadorian Embassy, in London, on May 19, 2017. Assange has accused his hosts at the embassy of spying on him for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to reports. Jack Taylor/Getty Images

RTpublished a story on its site on Friday that claimed Assange had compared his situation to that of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi journalist who was murdered for criticizing the Saudi regime. The reports fromRT and Telesur raise questions about whether Assange is giving exclusive access to reporters who are aligned with Russia.

Officials investigating whether members of the Trump campaign collaborated with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and damage Clinton's campaign have also set their sites on Wikileaks. Trump ally Roger Stone preemptively predicted that the organization would publish the hacked Democratic emails. Meanwhile, recent reports have suggested that Assange may have been visited in the embassy by Trump's embattled former campaign manager Paul Manafort, who has since been convicted of eight counts of financial crimes.

Adam Waldman, another Washington lobbyist with ties to both Manafort and Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, also reportedly visited Assange in the embassy last year.

On Wednesday, Democratic Senator Diane Feinstein published a letter calling on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to brief Congress about his conversations with Ecuadorian officials regarding Assange's case.

"Given the role of Wikileaks in election interference efforts and reports of Paul Manafort visiting Julian Assange, we're calling on Secretary Pompeo to brief us on his recent meeting with Ecuadorian officials. The public deserves answers on foreign interference in our elections," Feinstein tweeted Wednesday.