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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 February 2019

Donald Trump ally Roger Stone arrested on seven charges

Law officers swooped on political consultant's home early on Friday morning

Roger Stone, former adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, has been arrested on seven charges -  five of giving false statements, one of obstruction of justice, and one count of witness tampering.. Bloomberg
Roger Stone, former adviser to Donald Trump's presidential campaign, has been arrested on seven charges -  five of giving false statements, one of obstruction of justice, and one count of witness tampering.. Bloomberg

US President Donald Trump's ally Roger Stone has been arrested in Florida, the office of Special Counsel Robert Mueller announced on Friday.

The political consultant was arrested as part of Mr Mueller's investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential campaign and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.

According to CNN, law enforcement officers raided Mr Stone's house in Fort Lauderdale at 6am.

The special prosecutor's office said Mr Stone had been indicted by a federal grand jury on seven counts – five of giving false statements, one of obstruction of justice, and one count of witness tampering.

Mr Stone, 66, is accused of organising the release of hacked information damaging to Mr Trump's Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, through WikiLeaks, which is referred to in the indictment as Organisation 1.

The head of the organisation was "located at all relevant times at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, United Kingdom", it says, in an apparent reference to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange who has not left the embassy since taking refuge there in 2012 to escape arrest on sexual assault charges.

Mr Stone was officially part of the Trump campaign until August 2015, but he remained a supporter and in contact with its officials until the November 2016 election, the indictment says.

WikiLeaks released tens of thousands of documents stolen from the Democratic National Committee and the personal email account John Podesta, chairman of the Clinton campaign, between July and November 2016.

According to the indictment, Mr Stone discussed the releases with a "political commentator who worked with an online media publication" during the presidential campaign, referred to as Person 1, and communicated with WikiLeaks through a “mutual friend” identified as Person 2, "a radio host who had known Stone for more than a decade".

He later denied any prior knowledge of the WikiLeaks releases in testimony to the House intelligence committee in September 2017, the indictment says.

It says the Trump campaign directed a senior campaign official to contact Mr Stone after the July 22, 2016, WikiLeaks release of hacked emails from the DNC and other groups. The official, who is not named in court papers, asked Mr Stone about additional releases and "what other damaging information" WikiLeaks had "regarding the Clinton campaign", the indictment says.

Mr Stone was to appear in court in Florida later on Friday. He has said for months he was expecting to be charges, although he denied any wrongdoing. A grand jury has heard months of witness testimony connected to Mr Stone, and the intelligence committee last year voted to release a transcript of his testimony to Mr Mueller as a precursor to an indictment.

Mr Stone has publicly denigrated the Mueller investigation and echoed the president's descriptions of it as a witch hunt. But he has long attracted investigators' attention, especially in light of a 2016 tweet that appeared to predict the release of emails stolen from Mr Podesta.

He has denied knowing about the contents of the emails in WikiLeaks' possession or when they would be released. He said he learned from Randy Credico, a New York radio host, that WikiLeaks had the emails and planned to disclose them.

In a tweet on Friday, Mr Podesta wrote that it was now "Roger's time in the barrel" – a play on Mr Stone's own words. Mr Stone had tweeted before the Podesta emails were disclosed that it would soon be Mr Podesta's "time in the barrel".

Updated: January 25, 2019 06:47 PM

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