The Julian Assange Paul Manafort saga

I mark my direct sources in frog green, secondhand sources in parchment yellow, and unchecked sources in rust red. Note that the direct asserts need not be true, only that the cited text has a direct link. You can explore the red zones for yourself.

On The Intercept website last 27 November, Glen Greenwald published a rebuttal of The Guardian's "Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy, sources say" (27 November 2018).

[Paul] Manafort is the jailed former President Trump campaign manager who along with Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner met with a supposed Russian agent and was offered damaging information about Trump's Presidential election rival Hillary Clinton.

WikiLeaks published hacked emails from the Democratic National Committee and Hillary Clinton’s campaign in the run-up to the Election Day, in late 2016, "to devastating effect on the Democrat’s presidential bid" according to The Daily Dot.

Jeet Heer of The New Republic noted: "If true, the report offers important substantiation for the allegations that the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 campaign, with Wikileaks serving as the venue for the release of hacked information that damaged the Clinton campaign."

Wikileaks denied the allegations as did Paul Manafort, who said via a spokesperson that he had never met Assange.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention on 21 December 2018 urged the U.K. to "honour rights obligations and let Mr. Julian Assange leave Ecuador embassy in London freely" after six years cooped up there.

Greenwald's article was titled: "It Is Possible Paul Manafort Visited Julian Assange. If True, There Should Be Ample Video and Other Evidence Showing This."

"The logs of the embassy show no such meetings," wrote Greenwald. His main point: "London itself is one of the world’s most surveilled, if not the most surveilled, cities. And the Ecuadorian Embassy in that city – for obvious reasons – is one of the most scrutinized, surveilled, monitored and filmed locations on the planet. [...] If Paul Manafort (or, for that matter, Roger Stone), visited Assange at the Embassy, there would be ample amounts of video and other photographic proof demonstrating that this happened."

But "certain MSNBC and CNN personalities instantly and mindlessly treated the story as true and shocking."

True, this is mostly argument by supposition. Greenwald also suggests the reporter has a "long-standing and vicious personal feud with WikiLeaks".

But Jeet Heer of The New Republic commented: "There are genuine grounds to be cautious about the report. It is based on anonymous sources, some of whom are connected with Ecuadorian intelligence."

Another commentator I am trying to track down suggested the Ecuadorian intelligence officer thought to be involved acted for the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, which would add another twist to the tale, in view of the revelation by the Department of Justice that it has filed sealed charges against Assange.

The Guardian headline originally stated "Manafort held secret talks with Assange in Ecuadorian embassy". Within 90 minutes, it was changed to add "sources say". News Sniffer has a comparison of the two versions and a note that "the article has changed three times".

Greenwald declares: "The Guardian, an otherwise solid and reliable paper, has such a pervasive and unprofessionally personal hatred for Julian Assange that it has frequently dispensed with all journalistic standards in order to malign him. One of the most extreme of many instances occurred in late 2016 when the paper was forced to retract a remarkably reckless (but predictably viral) Ben Jacobs story that claimed, with zero evidence, that 'Assange has long had a close relationship with the Putin regime.'" Greenwald notes it was later amended to remove this sentence.

The Guardian still has to retract or qualify its Manafort story. It can claim it is true, as the original headline could not, that the assertion that sources said the meetings took place. These sources included an internal Ecuadorian intelligence service document.