Former Donald Trump campaign chief Paul Manafort addressed the possible handover to the US of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange in mid-May 2017, with then president-elect of Ecuador Lenín Moreno, according to The New York Times.
The newspaper cited three unnamed sources on Monday, December 3 reporting that, during at least two meetings with Manafort in Quito, Moreno and his assistants spoke of their desire to rid themselves of Assange — a refugee since 2012 at the South American country’s embassy in London — in exchange for some concessions, especially the relief of Ecuadorian debt with the US.
The ex Trump official allegedly suggested he could help in the negotiation of an agreement to deliver Assange to the US.
Several days after the last meeting Mr Manafort held in Quito, Robert Mueller was announced as a special advisor in charge of a probe to investigate the alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US elections.
Even if there is no evidence Mr Manafort was working with — or even briefing — President Trump or other administration officials on his discussions with Ecuadorean officers, he and WikiLeaks have both denied a recent report in The Guardian that Mr Assange was visited by Mr Manafort at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Mr Assange has now become a pawn in President Moreno’s ongoing battle against his predecessor Rafael Correa — who has fled into exile in Belgium since the Ecuadorian judiciary is pursuing 13 investigations against him. Mr Correa finds his successor’s treatment of Mr Assange appalling.