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27 Nov, 2018 16:17

WikiLeaks betting ‘$1mn & editor’s head’ against Guardian claims that Manafort met Assange

After the Guardian released an anonymously-sourced report on Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s alleged meetings with Julian Assange, Wikileaks says it was asked for comment, but its denial was not included in the article.

The report by Guardian’s Luke Harding, which is light on relevant details and based on unnamed “well-placed sources,” claims that Manafort, who managed US President Donald Trump's 2016 campaign and is currently in jail on related charges, met with Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange three times during Assange’s ongoing exile in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London.

The article says it’s unknown what the two supposedly discussed, but hints heavily that it was related to Russia’s alleged interference in the election – namely the leak of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails. Those documents were “stolen by Russian intelligence officers,” the Guardian claims.

As such, Harding writes, the meetings could be of interest to FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who has been trying and failing to find definitive proof of Trump’s supposed “collusion” with Russia.

Except the meetings didn’t happen, Wikileaks says. The whistleblowing website is so adamant about this, it’s willing to bet “a million dollars and its editor’s head” on it.

Moreover, Wikileaks has posted a screenshot of what it says is Harding’s request for comment it received hours before the Guardian’s publication. Comment was given but not included, it says.

Over an hour after publication the Guardian article was updated to include Wikileaks’ reaction. Whether Harding’s anonymous sources will ultimately win against the whistleblowers’ all-in bet remains to be seen.

Several hours after wagering 1 million greenbacks that the story was a fraud, WikiLeaks noted that the Guardian had made edits to its original story, attributing the scoop to “sources” and drizzling the text with less certain-sounding language.

For example, the sentence “Why Manafort sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear,” was changed to “Why Manafort might have sought out Assange in 2013 is unclear.”

WikiLeaks called the changes “back-pedalling” on a “100% fake” story and, provocatively, asked if the paper’s editor-in-chief, Katharine Viner, would resign.

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