‘Fake story’: Ecuadorean diplomat blasts Guardian’s Assange-Manafort meeting report
A former senior diplomat at Ecuador’s London embassy has said that the source-based ‘bombshell’ by The Guardian, about alleged meetings between the former Trump campaign manager and the WikiLeaks founder, is a work of fiction.
Fidel Narváez, who had worked at his country’s embassy in London from 2010 to July 2018, said that he was completely unaware of the alleged meetings between Julian Assange and Trump's disgraced former campaign chairman Paul Manafort, that had supposedly taken place on his watch.
In a widely-criticized article by Luke Harding and Dan Collyns in collaboration with Fernando Villavicencio, the Guardian alleged last week that Manafort had gone to London three times over four years prior to the publication of leaked DNC emails.
The scoop drew on “sources” and a document “written by Ecuador’s Senain intelligence agency” and obtained by the Guardian.
Speaking to The Canary on Monday, Narváez, who’d worked as a consul and later as the first secretary at the embassy, argued that it was “simply not possible that Manafort visited the embassy.”
The diplomat, who now lives in the UK, pointed out that one has to jump through legal hoops to get to Assange, which is impossible to do without leaving a trace in the embassy’s log or other documents.
“It is impossible for any visitor to enter the embassy without going through very strict protocols and leaving a clear record: obtaining written approval from the ambassador, registering with security personnel, and leaving a copy of ID,” Narváez stressed.
It’s inconceivable that someone could have sneaked into the embassy unnoticed considering it is “the most surveilled on Earth,” he pointed out, noting that “not only are there cameras positioned on neighboring buildings recording every visitor, but inside the building every movement is recorded with CCTV cameras, 24/7.”
Narváez also took aim at other ‘explosive reports’ on WikiLeaks run by the renowned British paper, including its September story detailing an alleged “plan” by Ecuador to smuggle Assange out of the embassy and into Russia.
The piece claimed that Narváez was a key link between Moscow and the Ecuadorean officials. The diplomat said that the Guardian, by “relying on uncorroborated sources in lieu of solid facts,” has caused “irreparable damage” to his reputation in the UK and Ecuador and demanded an apology. While providing no proof for its allegation, the Guardian did not go back on its claim, citing another document from Senain.
The files the Guardian referred to were made public on October 17 at the request of an opposition lawmaker opposing the move by the country’s former president, Rafael Correa, to make Assange an Ecuadorian citizen. Some, however, cast doubt on the authenticity of the documents, suggesting it is a result of power play within the Ecuadorean government.
“Luke Harding and Dan Collyns, the authors of the Manafort fake story, are the same ones who wrote the Russia smuggling plot fake story and their ‘sources’ are most probably the same. I find it incredible that the Guardian allows these people to repeatedly damage the paper’s credibility and reputation,” the diplomat said.
Narváez has also accused the Guardian of falsely linking him to Russia in an article on Edward Snowden in July 2013. While he admitted that he had helped provide travel documents for Snowden while the whistleblower was stranded in Hong Kong, he insisted that he did so for Snowden to travel further on to Ecuador. That was the initial plan, before Snowden had to apply for asylum in Moscow after the US canceled his passport.
Meanwhile, both WikiLeaks and Manafort, who has denied having any meetings with Assange, threatened to sue the Guardian for libel.
WikiLeaks has launched a GoFundMe page, asking supporters to help it cover legal fees in the UK. The whistleblowing site says that is was not the first time the Guardian fabricated a story about Assange.
So far, it has managed to collect over $40,000 out of the target $300,000 in donations.
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