Manafort tried to help Ecuador ‘rid’ of Assange’s asylum

Manafort tried to help Ecuador ‘rid’ of Assange’s asylum

Paul Manafort attempted to broker a deal in 2017 for Ecuador to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to US authorities in exchange for debt relief from the USA government, the New York Times reported Monday night.

Paul Manafort, US President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman who awaits sentencing for lying to federal investigators in breach of a plea agreement, flew to Ecuador to help negotiate a deal for the handover of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to Washington, a media report said.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort travelled to Ecuador past year in an effort to broker an investment deal between that country and China, his spokesman told CBS News. During discussions, Moreno and his aides reportedly expressed their desire for Assange to leave the embassy, where he has been holed up since 2012, in exchange for USA debt relief, according to the report.

The WikiLeaks founder has been confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 when he was granted asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations and persecution in the United States for publication of leaked USA docs.

The outlet cites Manafort's spokesman, Jason Maloni as saying that Moreno brought up the Assange issue and expressed "his desire to remove Julian Assange from Ecuador's embassy", while Manafort "listened but made no promises as this was ancillary to the goal of the meeting".

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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.

No power system deal was made - and there is no evidence Manafort was working on behalf of the Trump administration in the talks about Assange, the Times reported.

The new revelation came a week after an article appeared in Tuesday's issue of The Guardian, which claimed that Manafort had visited Assange in the Ecuadorian mission in 2013, 2015, and the spring of 2016 when Manafort joined Trump's campaign.

Manafort "listened but made no promises as this was ancillary to the goal of the meeting", said Maloni. Moreno has in the past indicated that he would like to find a way to resolve the impasse, at the Times reported that he has considered giving him a diplomatic post in Russian Federation. But Moreno turned the conversation to Assange, who has resided in Ecuador's London embassy since 2012.

The former head of trump's staff held a final meeting with Moreno a few days after the appointment of Robert Mueller spectaculorum for investigation of Russia's intervention in US elections 2016.

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