Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, writing in the Guardian, have claimed Paul Manafort (jailed former-campaign chief to Donald Trump) met with Julian Assange, the illegally detained founding editor of WikiLeaks, in the run-up to 2016 Presidential election.
You can read an archived version their article here, just in case The Guardian “amends” their claims in the future (Update – The Guardian has already edited their article to scale back their language. Called it).
Other “news” outlets have, rather predictably, jumped all over it.
WikiLeaks have categorically denied any such meetings took place:
Remember this day when the Guardian permitted a serial fabricator to totally destroy the paper's reputation. @WikiLeaks is willing to bet the Guardian a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange. https://t.co/R2Qn6rLQjn
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 27, 2018
What the article says
So, is there any truth to the claims? Well, certainly not on the weight of Harding’s article. There is no evidence cited, except for the testimony of anonymous “sources”.
Sources have said Manafort went to see Assange in 2013, 2015 and in spring 2016.
A well-placed source has told the Guardian that Manafort went to see Assange around March 2016.
Manafort’s first visit to the embassy took place a year after Assange sought asylum inside, two sources said.
…is the type of language that fills this article. The claims of these “sources” are never analysed, only accepted.
For example, it is never explained why these visits were never mentioned before. The article refers to the “previously unreported Manafort-Assange connection”, without ever endeavouring to explain WHY it was “previously unreported”.
The Ecuadorian embassy in London has been the most photographed and videoed embassy in the world for the past 8 years – we have footage and/or photographs of visits from Pamela Anderson to John Pilger, and dozens of others.
How did the collected British press, police and security agencies manage to miss not one but FIVE separate visits from the campaign chief of a man running for President of the United States? We don’t know, they never say.
One particularly glaring problem with the narrative supplied by these anonymous “sources” is highlighted by the authors of the article (our emphasis)…
Visitors normally register with embassy security guards and show their passports. Sources in Ecuador, however, say Manafort was not logged.
…but even then the idea the “sources” could be misleading and/or mistaken is never floated. Indeed, rather than interrogating whether or not the claimed meetings happened at all, the authors endeavour to ask why they may have happened. This is not, traditionally, how journalism works.
What the article does not say
For all the claims of a Russia/Manafort/Assange connection, possibly the more shocking problem with the article is the near-constant lying by omission.
For example, it states:
WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of emails hacked by the GRU
Without mentioning that both Russia and WikiLeaks have emphatically denied this happened. Julian Assange, and every other representative of WikiLeaks, have always claimed the e-mails were leaked by DNC insiders, not hacked.
Later, the article says:
According to the dossier written by the former MI6 officer Christopher Steele, Manafort was at the centre of a “well-developed conspiracy of cooperation” between the Trump campaign and Russia’s leadership.
They don’t say that the Steele dossier was at least partly funded by Hillary Clinton’s Presidential campaign and the DNC, rendering all of its “findings” completely unreliable and possibly bogus.
This is classic dishonest journalism. Leaving out important information, whilst building its entire case on alleged anonymous “sources”. The tools of the hack with an axe to grind, or a Deep State-backed stenographer just doing what he’s told.
It’s all the Guardian does these days. And all Luke Harding has ever done.
Questions moving forward
- If all visitors to Assange need to sign-in and log their passports, why does Manafort’s name not appear in these logs?
- Why and/or how did the press and police, forever camped outside the Ecuadorian embassy, manage to miss a high-profile Trump aide visiting Assange 5 times?
- Why would Trump’s DOJ file charges against Assange if they were all part of the same Russian conspiracy?
- Is this connected to Manafort’s alleged “dishonesty” in his cooperation agreement?
- Is this a new part of the MSM effort to discredit Julian Assange, a pre-emptive defence of his deportation and show-trial?
- Will Luke Harding be sued?
We may be updating this piece as information is released. Feel free to discuss below.
WikiLeaks have announced they are considering suing The Guardian for running a “totally fabricated” story:
WikiLeaks launches legal fund to sue the Guardian for publishing entirely fabricated story "Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy" — which spread all over the world today. It is time the Guardian paid a price for fabricating news. https://t.co/VaoMESN5RO
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 27, 2018
They’ve opened a GoFundMe for it, which you can visit here.
On a totally unrelated note, this was brought to our attention by MarkGB on twitter. When you visit the twitter account of Hanna Jonasson, a member Julian Assange’s legal team, you are met with this screen:
Temporarily restricted accounts can still be followed, and still tweet, but they are banned from following other people and have their followers stripped. What “unusual activity” could and/or would Julian Assange’s legal representative be guilty of? Is it anything to do with possible legal action against a MSM outlet?
It may be totally unconnected, but it’s definitely worth notice.
2nd UPDATE 28/5/18:
The Guardian released this statement regarding the story:
This version of events has been refuted by both of the people accused in the article.
Paul Manafort released this statement:
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.”
Whilst WikiLeaks are still stenuously defending themselves on social media:
The "Guardian" issues statement on fabricated Assange-Manafort story. Makes no attempt to stand by the story. Instead, makes an instantly provably false claim that WikiLeaks didn't deny the story before publication. WikiLeaks did. Literally, to millions. https://t.co/HwSmgwIvpM pic.twitter.com/sl4mSTNAjd
— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 28, 2018