Europe

Businessman Behind Catalan Independence Movement Met With Julian Assange In London

800px-ecuadors_london_embassy_-_september_262c_2012

Embassy of Ecuador in London (Tracey & Doug / Wikimedia Commons)

Oriol Soler, a supporter of the Catalan separatist movement, met with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange in the Embassy of Ecuador in London, according to a report by the Spanish newspaper El Pais. The report has been confirmed by Soler.

Oriol Soler is an economist, editor and businessman from Ripollet, a town near Barcelona. He was a member of the Moviment de Defensa de la Terra (Movement for the Defence of the Country), a party that supported Catalan independence and pan-Catalan nationalism. He is one of the founders of the pro-independence Catalan news outlet Ara, which has received nearly 200,000 euros in subsidies from the pro-independence Catalan regional government.

Soler met with Assange on November 9 in the Embassy of Ecuador in London, where Assange has lived since 2012. The meeting lasted for about four hours. Asked by El Pais why he had visited Assange, Soler released a short statement: “We Catalans have also suffered electronic and physical espionage, censorship, judicial irregularities, arrests, extradition attempts, imprisonment, exile, financial blockades, fake news, counterpropaganda, like Julian Assange, and we were sharing our vision of the moment,” Soler wrote.

Julian Assange supported the October 1 independence referendum in Catalonia and uses Twitter as a platform to spread anti-Spain propaganda. As Natasha Bertrand of Business Insider wrote, Assange “has become the [Catalan] independence movement’s chief international spokesman.” The Russian government has also voiced its support for the Catalan independence movement.

In his book The Plot to Hack America, former US Navy officer and national security analyst Malcolm Nance described Wikileaks as “Russia’s intelligence laundromat”, a platform through which the Kremlin disseminates stolen information. Although Assange has denied charges of Russian influence, evidence suggests that his agenda converges with that of Moscow and Western far-right groups.




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Assange vehemently opposed Hillary Clinton during the US presidential campaign. In October 2016 Vox wrote that Assange had become “a de facto Donald Trump Super PAC.” While he was eager to release the Democratic National Committee’s e-mails, Assange has always been soft on dictators such as Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping. In August of this year it was reported that Wikileaks declined to publish thousands of Russian government documents in 2016.

In February Wikileaks blamed the resignation of Michael Flynn, the Trump administration’s former national security adviser, on a “destabilization campaign” instigated by Democrats, journalists, and “U.S. spies.” Michael Flynn is currently under investigation for his alleged ties to the governments of Russia and Turkey.

On March 9 Nigel Farage, the former leader of the far-right UK Independence Party (UKip) and a Brexit advocate, was seen leaving the Ecuadorian embassy. When he was asked by BuzzFeed News if he had visited Julian Assange, Farage said that he could not remember what he had been doing in the building. Farage is an admirer of both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. He has been named a ‘person of interest’ in the FBI’s Russia investigation.

Recently the East Stratcom task force, the European Union’s counterintelligence unit created as a response to Russian propaganda, has detected an upsurge in Russian disinformation campaigns and fake news about Spain and Catalan separatism, disseminated via Russia’s state-run media such as Sputnik and on social networks.




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