WikiLeaks has strenuously denied a report in The Guardian this morning that its founder Julian Assange met with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where Assange has claimed asylum.
This is going to be one of the most infamous news disasters since Stern published the “Hitler Diaries.”
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 27, 2018
The Guardian reported that Manafort visited Assange in 2013, 2015, and “around March 2016,” citing “a well-placed source.” The report also cited an Ecuadorian intelligence document that listed “Paul Manaford” as one of Assange’s visitors. As some observers have noted, it wouldn’t be hard to confirm or debunk the report, given the preponderance of security cameras around London, especially near that particular embassy. Also, the embassy once hired an Italian cybersecurity company, Hacking Team, to conduct surveillance of the facility, per an earlier Guardian report.
Manafort joined the Trump campaign in late March 2016, initially serving as the campaign’s convention manager. Years before working for the Trump campaign, Manafort worked as an adviser to Viktor Yanukovych, the former Russia-allied president of Ukraine.
Earlier this year, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges after being convicted of financial crimes related to income from his work in Ukraine. Prosecutors working with special counsel Robert Mueller said Monday he’s violated his plea agreement by lying to Mueller’s office and the FBI, and both prosecutors and Manafort’s defense team have called for him to be sentenced quickly.
WikiLeaks released emails allegedly stolen from Democratic Party officials by Russian hackers during the 2016 election cycle. Whether the group coordinated with anyone in the Trump campaign is believed to be one subject of Mueller’s probe.
A court filing made earlier this year in an unrelated federal case alluded to charges against Assange in what observers assumed was a failure to clean up boilerplate legal language copied and pasted from a secret indictment, but federal prosecutors have refused to confirm or deny there are charges pending agains the WikiLeaks editor. A federal judge declined to immediately rule Tuesday on whether to unseal the matter involving Assange, the Washington Post reports.
Update: In a statement shared with Fast Company, Paul Manafort also denied the report he met with Assange.
This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly. I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.