Help WikiLeaks Sue Guardian Over Fabricated Story

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Raised by 1,476 people in 7 months
Created November 27, 2018
Courage Foundation

Help WikiLeaks sue The Guardian for fabricating a story that Julian Assange had secret meetings with Paul Manafort

The Guardian has claimed, using unnamed sources, that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort had "secret talks" with Julian Assange  in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London on three occasions. These claims are completely false and the story has been fabricated. But it has gone viral, repeated uncritically by media outlets around the world.

UPDATE: Paul Manafort has issued a statement unequivocally denying the alleged visits:

“This story is totally false and deliberately libelous. I have never met Julian Assange or anyone connected to him. I have never been contacted by anyone connected to Wikileaks, either directly or indirectly.

“I have never reached out to Assange or Wikileaks on any matter. We are considering all legal options against the Guardian who proceeded with this story even after being notified by my representatives that it was false.”

The Embassy’s visitor logs – maintained by Ecuador – show no such visits, since they did not occur.

This is not the first time that the Guardian, and in particular its writer Luke Harding, have fabricated a story about Assange.

WikiLeaks is suing The Guardian for libel over this serious fabrication.

Bringing legal action in UK courts is extremely expensive. WikiLeaks is entirely funded by the public and urgently needs your support. We must hold The Guardian to account: your contribution will help make this lawsuit possible. Please make a donation today.

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Thank you for contributing to help WikiLeaks take legal action over the fabricated Assange-Manafort meeting story.

It has now been more than 11 weeks since The Guardian’s fabrication, and the newspaper has not retracted its story, provided any evidence to substantiate its baseless assertions, or answered any questions about its supposed “sources.”

A note regarding how these funds will be withdrawn:

This GoFundMe was opened by the Courage Foundation, which supports journalistic sources around the world. WikiLeaks is a Courage beneficiary.

GoFundMe donations, collected in USD, will be withdrawn into Courage's US-based bank account, from which they will be spent on expenses related to this legal action.

Bringing legal action in UK courts is extremely expensive. WikiLeaks is entirely funded by the public and urgently needs your support. Donate now to hold the Guardian accountable!
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It has now been over two months since the Guardian published its Manafort-Assange fabrication. The paper continues to refuse to answer questions about its supposed "sources" and to provide any evidence for its baseless assertions. Since our last update this outrageous fabrication has had ever more serious consequences. WikiLeaks and Julian Assange still need your support in order to proceed to take legal action against The Guardian.

The Guardian's Manafort fabrication now features in many "top fake Russiagate stories" lists:

- The Washington Post points out, in an article called "Beware of the permanent exclusive": "A representative for the Guardian declined to comment beyond the outlet’s previous statement [...] We didn’t get a denial, of course, can never substitute for an affirmation of anything. [...] Time is a friend to none of these stories. The longer they remain on their evidentiary islands, the more marginalized they become." 
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2019/01/17/beware-permanent-exclusive/

- The American comedian Jimmy Dore and The Nation's Aaron Maté discussed the Guardian Manafort fabrication, among other Russiagate "fails", in Dore's program Aggressive Progressive on The Young Turks: 
https://youtu.be/0BypY9ELgVk?t=33

- The Intercept's Glenn Greenwald ranks the "Paul Manafort Visited Julian Assange Three Times in the Ecuadorian Embassy and Nobody Noticed (Guardian/Luke Harding)" story #4 in his countdown article: "Beyond BuzzFeed: The 10 Worst, Most Embarrassing U.S. Media Failures on the Trump-Russia Story" 
https://theintercept.com/2019/01/20/beyond-buzzfeed-the-10-worst-most-embarrassing-u-s-media-failures-on-the-trumprussia-story/7

- WikiLeaks also published its own 'Top ten false or fabricated stories appearing in the press about WikiLeaks'.  https://threadreaderapp.com/thread/1087424714094583809.html
   
The Guardian's fabricated article anticipated serious consequences for Julian Assange, noting: "the last apparent meeting is likely to come under scrutiny and could interest Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor who is investigating alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia". 

Sure enough, on 11 December US members of Congress led by Diane Feinstein published a letter to Mike Pompeo on the basis of the Guardian's Manafort fabrication, urging Pompeo to pressure Ecuador into handing over "the complete, unedited log of Julian Assange's visitors at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London [...] to all ongoing US investigations" and "ask [Ecuador's] Foreign Minister Valencia to provide you with any security camera footage or other electronic media that was maintained by the government of Ecuador to supplement the visitor logs.”

The letter didn't stop there and shows how the Manafort story is being instrumentalised to pressure Ecuador to  end Julian Assange's asylum: Pompeo is asked to seek out "the status of the Ecuadorian Government's discussions with the British Government regarding Julian Assange", noting that "it is imperative that [Julian Assange's presence in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London] be resolved swiftly. We trust that you will remain in close contact with Foreign Minister Valencia on this matter." 
https://twitter.com/SenFeinstein/status/1072977963421978625/photo/1

US interrogations took place in Quito and London on the 18th and 20th of January 2019. EFE, Reuters and AFP reported on the U.S. interrogation of Ecuadorian London-based diplomats:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-russia-manafort-idUSKCN1PD02B

https://www.france24.com/en/20190118-us-officials-ask-ecuador-embassy-staff-about-assange-visitors
    
Curiously, The Guardian did not report on the US interrogations of Ecuador's embassy staff, despite being directly causative of the events, a fact that WikiLeaks called Guardian editor Kath Viner out on, on Twitter:
  https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/1087466505669959681
    
Three days after reports by Reuters, AFP and EFE on the meetings, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry officially confirmed that it was cooperating with the United States efforts to put Assange in prison.
      
Assange’s legal team responded with a statement posted to Twitter:  
          
“Ecuador’s new regime has done a 180 turn in relation to protecting Mr Assange and is now assisting the U.S. Government to prosecute him in flagrant violation of its binding legal obligations under refugee law to not do so. The pretext? An indisputably fabricated story planted in the Guardian newspaper citing anonymous Ecuadorian intelligence agents that no other media organization has backed.”  
          
https://twitter.com/DefendAssange/status/1086349581670117376  
          
The Guardian has not reported further on its Manafort story since it originally published it on its front page. The reason is clear: it cannot back it up and knows it is false.
          
WikiLeaks and Julian Assange need your help to fight back against this deliberate, malicious libel. Please donate again, share these updates with your social media following, stay informed and encourage others to make noise and donate to the fund to press the Guardian to retract its false story.
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5 weeks on: Guardian remains silent, Assange’s danger intensifies

Thank you so much for your contributions thus far. This is an update:

Glenn Greenwald: Five Weeks After The Guardian’s Viral Blockbuster Assange-Manafort Scoop, No Evidence Has Emerged — Just Stonewalling

https://theintercept.com/2019/01/02/five-weeks-after-the-guardians-viral-blockbuster-assangemanafort-scoop-no-evidence-has-emerged-just-stonewalling/

Greenwald also spoke to The Observer about what he called The Guardian’s “incredibly reckless” reporting, uncritically trusting Ecuadorian intelligence officials. Regarding those officials’ aims, he said, “I think that was the real goal, to turn the flames up on Julian’s expulsion. The Guardian’s happy to be used.”

Serge Halimi writes, ‘The Guardian’s Fake Scoop’
 https://mondediplo.com/outsidein/guardian-fake-scoop


Ecuador continues to turn up the pressure on Julian Assange: former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, himself charged by the new President Lenin Moreno. reveals that Ecuador has begun a “Special Examination” of Julian Assange’s asylum and citizenship.
https://www.rt.com/news/448012-ecuador-audit-assange-citizen-imf/

We’re almost at $50,000! Share this link and donate now to help WikiLeaks fight back against The Guardian’s defamation.

As always, stay up to date on Assange’s situation in the embassy and related developments at our liveblog: https://defend.wikileaks.org/2018/07/23/liveblog-julian-assange-in-jeopardy/
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It has now been three weeks since The Guardian published the fabricated Assange-Manafort story.

- The Guardian’s fabrication has real-world, dangerous ramifications for Julian Assange's legal situation: In a letter led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, US lawmakers have utilized "media reports" that "Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, including as recently as March 2016" to ask Sec. of State Mike Pompeo to demand from his Ecuadorian counterpart "the complete, unedited log of Julian Assange's visitors at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London be made availabla to all ongoing U.S. investigations", "any security camera footage or other electronic media that was maintained by the Ecuadorian Government to supplement the visitor logs" and "the status of the Ecuadorian Government's discussions with the British Government regarding Julian Assange", adding "it is imperative that [Assange's presence in the Ecuadorian Embassy] be resolved swiftly" https://twitter.com/SenFeinstein/status/1072977963421978625

- The former First Secretary at Ecuador's London embassy and consul, Fidel Narváez, said in an interview with the Real News Network’s Ben Norton that The Guardian's Manafort-Assange report is false. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HimlwWHPRco

- Norton has also commented on the story’s hidden 3rd co-author, Fernando Villavicencio:

“Guardian reporters Luke Harding and Dan Collyns co-authored this bogus story with opposition activist Fernando Villavicencio, who has close ties to the US and who Ecuador said previously doctored a document that was irresponsibly published by The Guardian “Ecuadorian opposition activist and Guardian contributor Villavicencio runs an "investigative journalism" site that churns out nonstop propaganda against Correa, the left, and @WikiLeaks.” https://twitter.com/BenjaminNorton/status/1075066876173213698

- Former Guardian reporter Glenn Greenwald tweeted his email to Guardian editor-in-chief Katharine Viner, asking several questions about the story, its lack of evidence, and Narvaez’s comments: https://twitter.com/ggreenwald/status/1072484810336161793

He added: “I'd like to ask again: how can a news outlet like @guardian possibly expect credibility when it demands transparency and accountability from other powerful institutions when it stonewalls and ignores all public inquiries in a case like this? They're stonewalling more than GCHQ.

If you care about the loss of faith in news outlets & the ability of demagogues to attack journalism as Fake News, then you should be most vocal about demanding that outlets like @guardian avoid this kind of behavior, that feeds that distrust and lends credence to those attacks.”

- WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Kristinn Hrafnsson commented on the lack of response as well: https://twitter.com/khrafnsson/status/1075058796400177152 “Three weeks since @guardian killed its reputation with Manafort-met-Assange fabrication. It has neither retracted nor tried to defend the story. No word from the journalists nor the editor @KathViner. Don´t think I've experienced anything as pathetic in my 30 yrs as a journalist.”

- Alan MacLeod has written for FAIR: Misreporting Manafort: A Case Study in Journalistic Malpractice https://fair.org/home/misreporting-manafort-a-case-study-in-journalistic-malpractice/ MacLeod spoke about the piece in an interview with journalist Slava Zilber: https://soundcloud.com/conversationswithslava/punching-down-the-mainstream-media-and-julian-assange#t=2:37

- Meanwhile, Der Spiegel has investigated its own scandal and admitted the deception to its readers: https://t.co/QylwAn8PUn

- Independent journalist and author Matt Kennard has pointed out that one of the authors of the Manafort-Assange fabrication, Luke Harding, has fallen silent since the publication of the story.
"Where’s the @guardian’s Luke Harding? He hasn’t published a story for three weeks. Has he been put on gardening leave after the fabricated frontpage Assange-Manafort story? #fakenews #boycotttheguardian"

- Finally, @AssangeLegal notes that The Guardian’s Media Group endowment and cash holdings total £1.01 billion, a reminder of what WikiLeaks is up against.

WikiLeaks ’s legal team is in discussions with libel lawyers and needs all the help it can get. Thank you for your donations thus far, and please continue to share articles and links about the fabricated article, as well as this GoFundMe link as widely as you can.
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$60,362 of $300,000 goal

Raised by 1,476 people in 7 months
Created November 27, 2018
Courage Foundation
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