The US Department of Justice has issued formal requests to six current and former staff from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London following a controversial article in The Guardian claiming that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in the Embassy right around the time he joined the Trump Campaign.
According to the Defend Assange Campaign, the DOJ "has issued an international subpoena for six diplomatic staff who were in the embassy with Julian Assange."
We can confirm that the U.S. Department of Justice has issued an international subpoena for six diplomatic staff who were in the embassy with Julian Assange following a false story planted in Guardian of secret meetings between Assange and Manafort in 2013, 2015 and 2016. https://t.co/PQBj3HLLBy— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) January 17, 2019
As @WikiLeaks says, what's astonishing here is not only how the DoJ is sending international subpoenas based on a deliberately fabricated story but that Ecuador's submission to the US is now so complete that it is permitting a foreign state to interrogate its diplomatic staff.— Defend Assange Campaign (@DefendAssange) January 17, 2019
WikiLeaks attorneys provided the following statement to the Gateway Pundit's Cassandra Fairbanks, who visited Assange in the Embassy earlier this month.
"Ecuador’s new regime has done a 180 turn in relation to protecting Mr. Assange and is now assisting the U.S. government to prosecute him in flagrant violation of its binding legal obligations under refugee law to not do so. The pretext? An indisputably fabricated story planted in the Guardian newspaper citing anonymous Ecuadorian intelligence agents,” the WikiLeaks legal team said in the statement. “Last month The New York Times reported that Ecuador’s current President Lenin Moreno offered to illegally trade Mr. Assange for US ‘debt relief’. This unscrupulous, lawless behavior is entirely contrary to international norms on refugee protection and press freedoms." -Gateway Pundit
The November Guardian article alleged that Manafort visited Assange in the Embassy in 2013, 2015 and 2016 - a claim which has been vehemently denied by both parties, while WikiLeaks announced on Monday that it would be suing The Guardian over its reporting.
WikiLeaks fund to sue the Guardian for publishing fabricated front page stories has hit $50,000. Thanks to all 1270 donors so far. Legal action will now commence (but more is required to complete). https://t.co/VaoMESN5RO— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) January 14, 2019
The article has been widely panned by members of the media, while several holes have been poked in the story.
The behavior @Guardian has engaged in surrounding the Manafort/Assange story is what erodes trust in journalism and undermines the work of journalists everywhere. It also makes it much harder for news outlets to do their jobs to act as credible watch dogs demanding transparency. pic.twitter.com/KHmdo2H96K— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 12, 2018
In December, a former consul and first secretary at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Fidel Narváez, refuted the story. Narváez, who worked in the Embassy between 2010 and 2018 told The Canary that The Guardian's claim is entirely false. The Canary has also reviewed a copy of correspondence between the Guardian and Narváez in which he makes a formal complaint accusing the paper of fabricating an earlier story about a Kremlin plot to smuggle Assange to Russia.
Narváez - initially consul and then first secretary at the embassy, told the Canary that to his knowledge, Manafort never visited the embassy while he was employed there. What's more, his account supports points made by The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald about visitation rights at the embassy.
It is impossible for any visitor to enter the embassy without going through very strict protocols and leaving a clear record: obtaining written approval from the ambassador, registering with security personnel, and leaving a copy of ID. The embassy is the most surveilled on Earth; not only are there cameras positioned on neighbouring buildings recording every visitor, but inside the building every movement is recorded with CCTV cameras, 24/7. In fact, security personnel have always spied on Julian and his visitors. It is simply not possible that Manafort visited the embassy.
The Guardian responded to Narváez's comments, stating:
"This story relied on a number of sources. We put these allegations to both Paul Manafort and Julian Assange’s representatives prior to publication. Neither responded to deny the visits taking place. We have since updated the story to reflect their denials."
Further disproving the Guardian report are Manafort's passport stamps, which the Washington Times reported reveal just two visits to England in 2010 and 2012, which support his categorical denial of the "totally false and deliberately libelous" report in The Guardian, which said that Manafort visited Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy - ostensibly to coordinate on the WikiLeaks release of Hillary Clinton's emails.
WikiLeaks, meanwhile, bet The Guardian "a million dollars and its editor's head that Manafort never met Assange."
This is going to be one of the most infamous news disasters since Stern published the "Hitler Diaries".— WikiLeaks (@wikileaks) November 27, 2018