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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

WikiLeaks denies Manafort embassy meeting with Julian Assange

The whistleblowing site released a cache of emails stolen from Hillary Clinton’s campaign

Julian Assange's WikiLeaks organisation has denied that he met with former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort. Reuters
Julian Assange's WikiLeaks organisation has denied that he met with former Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort. Reuters

WikiLeaks has angrily denied that Paul Manafort, Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, met the whistleblowing site’s founder Julian Assange while he was holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in London.

The Guardian newspaper claimed that Mr Manafort met Mr Assange on three occasions, the last in 2016 and months before WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers.

Mr Manafort was convicted of fraud last year in connection with his work as a political consultant in Ukraine but avoided further charges in return for cooperating with investigators probing alleged collusion between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia.

He had been present for several key episodes including a meeting at Trump Tower meeting involving Donald Trump junior and a Russian lawyer who he was told had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

US officials on Monday, however, accused Mr Manafort of repeatedly lying to them, effectively ending his role as a potential key witness for prosecutor Robert Mueller’s inquiry and clearing the way for a longer prison sentence.

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WikiLeaks denied that Mr Manafort met with Mr Assange, who has been inside Ecuador’s embassy in London for more than six years to avoid arrest over sexual assault allegations in Sweden and jumping bail.

The Guardian cited unidentified sources and an Ecuadorian intelligence agency report that listed ‘Paul Manaford’ as a guest of Mr Assange.

“This is going to be one of the most infamous news disasters since Stern published the ‘Hitler Diaries’,” WikiLeaks wrote in a tweet on Tuesday in reference to faked documents bought published by the German magazine in the 1980s.

“@WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange.”