Paul Manafort says Ecuador's president asked him about Julian Assange

Remigio Civitarese
Dicembre 6, 2018

Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, offered to help Ecuador's then newly elected president Lenín Moreno hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the USA, sources told The New York Times.

A deal between Ecuador and China would likely have been quite lucrative for Manafort, who was styling himself as an worldwide power broker during his mid-2017 meeting with Moreno.

Moreno and his officials reportedly voiced their readiness to assist Assange's removal from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, whose asylum has been a point of contention for the new administration in Quito, in exchange for concessions from the US.

Assange is wanted by both US and British authorities, making his refuge at the London embassy a sticking point between Ecuador and the two world powers.

They said Manafort suggested he could help negotiate a deal for the handover of Assange to the USA, which has long investigated him for the disclosure of secret documents.

The talks ultimately came to nothing, as within a few days of the meeting Robert Mueller was appointed the Justice Department's special counsel to investigate allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation, and it soon became clear that Manafort would be a target of the investigation.

In response to the development, Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, said that it was Moreno who broached the issue of Assange and "his desire to remove Julian Assange from Ecuador's embassy".

Manafort's trip to Ecuador and what he discussed regarding Assange, has become a subject of speculation in recent weeks.

Several days after the last meeting Mr Manafort held in Quito, Robert Mueller was announced as a special advisor in charge of a probe to investigate the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. elections. "There was no mention of Russian Federation at the meeting". Sweden dropped its investigation in May 2017, but Assange fears he will be extradited to the United States to face prosecution over WikiLeaks' publication of leaked U.S. military and diplomatic documents.

Manafort has denied a report in The Guardian that he visited Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy three times between 2013 and 2016.

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