Paul Manafort says Ecuador's president asked him about Julian Assange

Ecuadorian President talked with Manafort about removing Assange from embassy

Paul Manafort attempted to broker a deal in 2017 for Ecuador to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to US authorities in exchange for debt relief from the USA government, the New York Times reported Monday night.

Paul Manafort, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, exits the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse, February 28, in Washington, D.C. He offered to help Ecuador's then newly elected president Lenín Moreno hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the US, according to The New York Times. Manafort had reportedly traveled to Ecuador in hopes of brokering a deal for China to invest in the South American country's power system, angling for a large commission.

Julian Assange asked for asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in 2012 after Britain requested his extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual offences.

The WikiLeaks founder has been confined in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London since 2012 when he was granted asylum there to avoid extradition to Sweden over rape allegations and persecution in the United States for publication of leaked USA docs.

Manafort was convicted of bank and tax fraud earlier this year, and agreed to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller in his prove of Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

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In response to the development, Jason Maloni, a spokesman for Manafort, said that it was Moreno who broached the issue of Assange and "his desire to remove Julian Assange from Ecuador's embassy".

There was no suggestion that Manafort was working with the Trump administration or briefing administration officials during the visit, according to The Times.

Manafort's trip to Ecuador and what he discussed regarding Assange, has become a subject of speculation in recent weeks.

Manafort "listened but made no promises as this was ancillary to the goal of the meeting", said Maloni. Manafort's spokesperson also specified that "there was no mention of Russian Federation at the meeting' with the Ecuadorian president".

Assange and Wikileaks are also players in the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

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