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Spanish police arrest reporter who tried to sell Assange embassy videos

The suspect, who had been convicted of fraud in the past, was part of a ring that attempted to make €3 million on the sale

julian assange
Assange inside the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

The Spanish police have arrested a journalist and a computer programmer for their alleged involvement in an attempt to make €3 million from the sale of private material relating to Julian Assange while he was living at the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

Judicial sources said that the police on Wednesday arrested José Martín Santos, a reporter with a prior record of fraud. He and an unnamed computer programmer were held in Alicante on Wednesday.

They were allegedly part of a network that had tried to sell images, videos and personal documents depicting private moments from the last two years of the famous activist’s life inside the embassy.

The arrests were triggered by a complaint filed by Assange himself at a Madrid court after a Wikileaks representative, Kristinn Hrafnsson, met with Martín Santos and two other people who offered the former the audiovisual material in exchange for a large sum of money. The case was first reported by EL PAÍS.

In 2007, Martín Santos was sentenced to three years in prison for setting fire to a home he was taking care of in order to simulate a burglary and collect the insurance.

At the Madrid meeting on April 2, Martín Santos produced a computer and showed Hrafnsson 103 files containing private correspondence and audiovisual material obtained at the embassy. The Wikileaks representative was told that this material would end up all over the media unless a payment of €3 million was made.

Assange’s criminal complaint is also aimed at the embassy personnel and members of the security firm Promsecurity, which replaced the previous security company, the Spain-based Undercover Global SL, when Lenin Moreno became the new president of Ecuador in 2017.

On April 11 the activist was forcibly removed from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he had entrenched himself in order to avoid being arrested.

English version by Susana Urra.

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