U.S. asked Ecuadorean officials about alleged Assange-Manafort meeting: source

By Alexandra Valencia and Jose Llangari

QUITO (Reuters) – U.S. officials spoke with officials from Ecuador’s British embassy on Friday about an alleged meeting there between President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, an Ecuadorean government source said.

The Guardian newspaper reported the meeting in November, alleging the two met at least three times, including in 2016, just before WikiLeaks released damaging emails about Trump’s rival in the 2016 presidential elections, Hillary Clinton.

Manafort and Assange have both previously denied meeting each other at the embassy.

WikiLeaks, in a statement on Friday entitled the “U.S. interrogation of Ecuadorian diplomats,” accused Ecuador’s government of assisting the United States in prosecuting Assange, who first sought asylum in the embassy in 2012.

The source said the embassy officials, at the request of the U.S. Justice Department, provided testimony in Quito at facilities provided by Ecuadorean authorities.

Ecuador’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment and the U.S. embassy in Quito did not respond to a request for comment.

Manafort is awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to conspiracy against the United States and agreeing to cooperate with U.S. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 elections and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.

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