Paul Manafort Met With Julian Assange Months Before WikiLeaks Published DNC Emails

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A USA judge has postponed ruling on a legal bid to unseal reported criminal charges against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

Ecuadorian intelligence claims WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange met with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort in London.

The Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday that Manafort traveled to London to visit Assange three times from 2013 to 2016.

The report comes as Manafort faces an accusation of lying to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who's investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. His contacts with Trump's campaign have been a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election on behalf of Trump.

The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press argued that the inadvertent disclosure by prosecutors about charges against Assange obliterates the usual need for secrecy.

That action is something White House press secretary Sarah Sanders dismissed Tuesday.

Mr Assange took refuge in Ecuador's embassy in London in 2012 amid fears he could be prosecuted for Wikileaks' previous revelations of USA national security secrets.

The alleged 2016 meeting between Manafort and Assange, the Guardian notes, may "come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller". One of those meetings reportedly occurred in spring 2016, around the time Manafort joined the Trump campaign and several months before WikiLeaks published Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails that were obtained by Russian hackers.

Report: Paul Manafort Met With Julian Assange Months Before WikiLeaks Published DNC Emails
Ecuadorian Intelligence Claims Paul Manafort Met With Julian Assange Prior to DNC Hack

The Guardian story, however, does not cite any sources by name, although it does quote an Ecuadorian government document that suggests "Paul Manaford" paid a call to its embassy in London.

He acknowledged the error in which court papers in an unrelated case say that Assange "has been charged" but he said the mistake is not confirmation that Assange is actually charged.

She also noted no other case in which the government was compelled to unseal the charging document before the defendant's arrest.

Special Counsel Robert Mueller started his investigation nearly 1.5 years ago but has still failed to present evidence proving alleged collusion between Donald Trump's presidential campaign and Moscow.

On Monday prosecutors said in a court filing that Manafort had lied to investigators, in violation of a plea agreement he made in September.

"For things that have to do with Mr. Manafort, I refer you to his attorneys to address that", Sanders said.

That dispute is playing out amid sometimes feverish speculation within Washington, D.C., that Mueller's investigation may be on the verge of unveiling more criminal charges, perhaps against another sub-cast of characters centered on political consultant Roger Stone.

His lawyer said he has met with the special counsel's office several times and provided truthful information.

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