The Manafort claim
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.
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.
And that’s not the only disputed Guardian piece…
In response, the Guardian told The Canary that “The article in question included a denial by Fidel Narváez”. The Guardian has refused to amend the article. It also stands by its claims, even though Narváez’s complaint is still under investigation.
The ‘documents’ behind the Guardian‘s defence
further information relevant to the subject of the article has come to light from documents made available in Ecuador.
But according to the Intercept‘s Glenn Greenwald:
There are all sorts of internecine battles being waged inside the Ecuadorian Government that provide motive to feed false claims about Assange to the Guardian. Senain, the Ecuadorian intelligence service that the Guardian says showed it the incriminating report, has been furious with Assange for years, ever since WikiLeaks published files relating to the agency’s hacking and malware efforts.
Ecuador, in common with other sovereign states, is free to appoint whom they choose as a diplomat to any posting. Ecuador’s wish for Julian Assange to be able to leave the Embassy legitimately, with the agreement of the UK government and without risk to himself is a very long way from a “plot to smuggle” him out in collusion with a third country.
And to dispel any further doubts, Narváez told The Canary that:
Ecuador has never even considered the possibility of moving Assange out of the embassy without the consent of the UK. That is why the Guardian’s article is completely false.
It doesn’t stop there. Edward Snowden also comes into the picture.
decisive action of your consul in London, Fidel Narvaez, guaranteed my rights would be protected upon departing Hong Kong.
The document I issued for Edward Snowden was to help him get to Ecuador, not to Moscow. I did not help him to get to Russia. In fact, the opposite is true. I tried to help him leave Russia. Russia was not his destination and it played no part in his attempt to get to South America.
A hostile environment of reputation-damaging ‘fake stories’
Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, the authors of the Manafort fake story, are the same ones who wrote the Russia smuggling plot fake story, and their ‘sources’ are most probably the same. I find it incredible that the Guardian allows these people to repeatedly damage the paper’s credibility and reputation.