The Guardian's Manafort fabrication now features in many "top fake Russiagate stories" lists:
- The Washington Post points out, in an article called "Beware of the permanent exclusive": "A representative for the Guardian declined to comment beyond the outlet’s previous statement [...] We didn’t get a denial, of course, can never substitute for an affirmation of anything. [...] Time is a friend to none of these stories. The longer they remain on their evidentiary islands, the more marginalized they become."
- The American comedian Jimmy Dore and The Nation's Aaron Maté discussed the Guardian Manafort fabrication, among other Russiagate "fails", in Dore's program Aggressive Progressive on The Young Turks:
- The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald ranks the "Paul Manafort Visited Julian Assange Three Times in the Ecuadorian Embassy and Nobody Noticed (Guardian/Luke Harding)" story #4 in his countdown article: "Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story"
- WikiLeaks also published its own 'Top ten false or fabricated stories appearing in the press about WikiLeaks'. https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1087424714094583809.html
The Guardian's fabricated article anticipated serious consequences for Julian Assange, noting: "the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia".
Sure enough, on 11 December US members of Congress led by Diane Feinstein published a letter to Mike Pompeo on the basis of the Guardian's Manafort fabrication, urging Pompeo to pressure Ecuador into handing over "the complete, unedited log of Julian Assange's visitors at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London [...] to all ongoing US investigations" and "ask [Ecuador's] Foreign Minister Valencia to provide you with any security camera footage or other electronic media that was maintained by the government of Ecuador to supplement the visitor logs.”
The letter didn't stop there and shows how the Manafort story is being instrumentalised to pressure Ecuador to end Julian Assange's asylum: Pompeo is asked to seek out "the status of the Ecuadorian Government's discussions with the British Government regarding Julian Assange", noting that "it is imperative that [Julian Assange's presence in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London] be resolved swiftly. We trust that you will remain in close contact with Foreign Minister Valencia on this matter."
US interrogations took place in Quito and London on the 18th and 20th of January 2019. EFE, Reuters and AFP reported on the U.S. interrogation of Ecuadorian London-based diplomats:
Curiously, The Guardian did not report on the US interrogations of Ecuador's embassy staff, despite being directly causative of the events, a fact that WikiLeaks called Guardian editor Kath Viner out on, on Twitter:
Three days after reports by Reuters, AFP and EFE on the meetings, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry officially confirmed that it was cooperating with the United States efforts to put Assange in prison.
Assange’s legal team responded with a statement posted to Twitter:
“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 that no other media organization has backed.”
The Guardian has not reported further on its Manafort story since it originally published it on its front page. The reason is clear: it cannot back it up and knows it is false.
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