A Spanish judge’s request to probe a Las Vegas Sands staffer’s apparent role in a criminal spying operation against Julian Assange indicates the investigation is homing in on US intelligence. Tellingly, the Department of Justice is stonewalling the application.
By Max Blumenthal
The Spanish judge presiding over the trial of a security firm owner apparently hired to spy on jailed Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange has sent a request to the US Department of Justice for an interview with Zohar Lahav, the Israeli-American vice president for executive protection at Las Vegas Sands.
Sands is owned by the ultra-Zionist casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, one of the single largest donors to Donald Trump’s presidential campaigns and the Republican Party.
According to court documents reviewed by The Grayzone, the judge seeks to probe Lahav’s relationship with disgraced UC Global CEO David Morales, who was indicted for an array of crimes after allegedly presiding over a spying operation targeting Assange while he was confined within Ecuador’s embassy in London.
This request follows a previous attempt at securing witness interviews that was effectively blocked by the US Department of Justice.
The judge outlined four objectives for the interview with Lahav:
- Determine Lahav’s relationship with Morales
- Determine the occasions when Morales and Lahav met in the United States and Spain
- Determine if Lahav had communications and meetings with Morales regarding the alleged illegally obtained information under investigation
- Determine if Lahav or his superiors in Las Vegas Sands, Sheldon Adelson and Brian Nagel, had access to the alleged illegally obtained information under investigation.
The judge’s interest in Nagel indicates that the Spanish investigation is now probing the suspected role of US intelligence as the guiding hand behind UC Global’s criminal spying operation.
Before he was hired as Adelson’s director of global security, Nagel serving as the top cyber-crime investigator for the US Secret Service – a role which earned him a medal of commendation from the CIA. Together with Lahav, he was likely to have played a central role in coordinating between Sands, UC Global, and US intelligence.
Morales has fervently denied being a double agent, maintaining that UC Global was contracted exclusively by the Ecuadorian security service known as SENAIN to protect Assange while he was trapped in Ecuador’s embassy in London.
Fernando Garcia, the lawyer defending Morales in the Spanish case, insisted to The Grayzone in a garbled email, “David Morales never spied [on] anybody, never sent any legal information [to] anybody but helped Assange [stay] safe and comfortable [in the] Ecuador Embassy with NO[T] ONE incident under their protection.”
But as The Grayzone first reported in May, witnesses in the Spanish case testified that Lahav recruited UC Global’s Morales when the Spanish mercenary visited a security fair hosted at Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands Convention Center. The two became fast friends, with Lahav communicating constantly with Morales as the operation escalated from snooping to theft, fraud, and assassination plots, according to testimony by several witnesses.
Emails obtained by the Spanish court and reviewed by The Grayzone contained IP addresses revealing that Morales sent spying instructions to his employees while he was staying at Adelson’s Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.
The Grayzone has now learned that Lahav and Morales have been identified together in at least one US-allied South American country since the operation at the embassy ended. Further, a Spanish police document seen by this reporter placed Morales on Adelson’s Queen Miri luxury yacht in July 2019.
Private communications by Morales and testimony by his former employees strongly suggested that Adelson’s Sands was functioning as a front for the CIA.
According to a former UC Global business partner, Morales boasted that he was “working for the dark side” after returning from his first trip to Las Vegas and explicitly stated he had been contracted by US intelligence, describing the CIA alternately as his “American friends” and “the American client.”
In a text message obtained by The Grayzone, Morales told an employee that his company had been hired to spy on Assange by “the agency of the stars and stripes.”
By seeking an interview with Lahav and information about Nagel, the Spanish judge presiding over the criminal trial of Morales is effectively investigating the role of Adelson’s security team as a channel between the CIA and UC Global.
American cooperation with the Spanish judge’s request for a US-based witness is mandated under the 2004 US-Spain Mutual Legal Assistance Instrument.
However, in an email reviewed by The Grayzone, DOJ trial attorney Susan Park Hunter attempted to stall the investigation with vague and frivolous requests for “additional information,” including the “factual basis to suspect [David] Morales Guillen of bribery and money laundering.”
Hunter’s language indicates that the US government recognizes the gravity of the judge’s request, and given the consequence of allowing a figure like Lahav to testify, has resolved to do whatever is necessary to avoid compliance.
The CIA’s men in Vegas?
Proof of UC Global’s spying campaign and evidence of the firm’s relationship with the CIA emerged following the September 2019 arrest of David Morales. Spanish police had initiated a secret investigation called “Operation Tabanco” under a criminal case managed by the same Madrid-based National Court that presided over the arrest of former Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1998.
Morales was charged in October 2019 by the Spanish court with violating the privacy of Julian Assange and abusing his attorney-client privileges, as well as money laundering and bribery. A former Spanish special forces officer turned mercenary, Morales was also accused of illegal weapons possession when police found two guns with the serial numbers filed off on his property.
Documents and testimony revealed in the Spanish court have exposed shocking details of UC Global’s campaign against Assange, his lawyers, friends, and even American journalists. Evidence of crimes ranging from spying to robberies to kidnapping and even a proposed plot to eliminate Assange by poisoning has emerged from the ongoing legal proceedings.
Several former UC Global employees stated in court this August that Morales explicitly proposed killing Assange with poison. One former staffer testified that Morales devised the extreme measures after being informed that “the Americans were desperate” to end Assange’s presence in the embassy.
Perhaps the most striking element exposed in the Spanish courtroom has been the apparent relationship between UC Global, Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands, and Mike Pompeo’s CIA.
In a previous report, The Grayzone detailed how the Las Vegas Sands corporation of Trump mega-donor Sheldon Adelson seemingly operated as a liaison between UC Global and US intelligence, contracting the former on behalf of the latter.
It was the second time Adelson’s company had been identified as a CIA asset. The first was in 2010, when a private intelligence report sponsored by the gambling industry alleged that an Adelson-owned casino in Macau was capturing footage of Chinese officials blowing huge sums of money at card tables and feeding it back to US intelligence so those officials could be blackmailed into serving as CIA informants.