Former Trump Aide Discussed Assange’s Handover to US With Ecuador

Blanche Robertson
December 6, 2018

Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno and his aides discussed the ways they could get rid of Julian Assange with Donald Trump's campaign chief Paul Manafort in 2017, The New York Times reports, citing three people familiar with the talks.

Manafort, President Donald Trump's former campaign chairman, met at least twice with Ecuador's incoming president, Lenín Moreno, in May 2017, the Times reported. According to the outlet, Trump's former manager, who is reported to have presented himself as a liaison for the new USA administration, travelled to Quito to facilitate a deal between Chinese investors and the Latin American country's power sector.

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.

Julian Assange asked for asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 after Britain requested his extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual offences.

Manafort offered to arrange for Assange to be handed over to the USA, where he has been investigated for the leak of thousands of secret US diplomatic cables in 2010.

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Bush then shook hands with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, causing her to smile when he passed her what appeared to be a piece of candy.

Within a couple of days of Manafort's final meeting in Quito, Robert Mueller was appointed as the Special Counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters, and it quickly became clear that Manafort was a primary target.

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 United States elections.

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.

Read the full Times report here.

WikiLeaks has come under scrutiny for its 2016 publication of emails stolen from Democratic servers by Russian intelligence agents, which contained damaging information about Hillary Clinton, Trump's rival during the 2016 presidential election.

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