Sunday Star-Times

Farage may have given data to Assange, US inquiry told

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Nigel Farage may have given Julian Assange a thumb drive of data and was possibly a more frequent visitor than was publicly known to the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where the WikiLeaks founder lives, according to testimony given to the United States congressio­nal inquiry into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Kremlin.

Glenn Simpson, a private investigat­or who commission­ed the controvers­ial dossier alleging a conspiracy between Trump campaign officials and Russian agents, told the House Intelligen­ce Committee that he had been told by an unnamed source that the former Ukip leader had given data to Assange, but he had no proof of the exchange.

‘‘I’ve been told and have not confirmed that Nigel Farage had additional trips to the Ecuadoran (sic) Embassy than the one that’s been in the papers and that he provided data to Julian Assange,’’ Simpson told the committee, according to a transcript.

Asked what kind of data Farage was alleged to have passed to the Wikileaks founder, Simpson replied: ‘‘A thumb drive.’’

Simpson told the committee – which is privy to classified US intelligen­ce – that it would be possible to confirm how often Farage had visited Assange through a routine inquiry.

His remarks were made during a private interview by the committee, which peppered Simpson with questions about Russian money laundering and the possibilit­y that US President Donald Trump could be compromise­d.

A spokesman for Farage told The Guardian last year that Farage had only met with Assange in March 2017, and not on any other occasion.

The Trump administra­tion has vigorously denied all claims that it may have colluded with Russian agents.

Assange has made no public comment, but the Wikileaks Twitter account said: ‘‘The question was about what kind of data. Game of Thrones or emails? 2016 or 2017? Simpson answers with a diversion.’’

Assange has denied working as an agent of Russia, and Farage has ridiculed suggestion­s that the Kremlin influenced either the US election or Britain’s 2016 vote to exit the European Union.

Farage’s relationsh­ip with Assange is of key interest because US intelligen­ce and law enforcemen­t officials see the WikiLeaks founder as a conduit for the Russian government.

Assange’s move to publish emails that were hacked from the Democratic Party in the months leading up to the 2016 presidenti­al election is seen as part of the Kremlin’s campaign to try to influence the outcome of the election in Trump’s favour.

Multiple US inquiries are now examining whether the Trump campaign or other officials had a hand in the Kremlin’s alleged interferen­ce.

An ongoing criminal investigat­ion into the matter has already resulted in four indictment­s, including of three former campaign officials.

It is known that Farage visited the WikiLeaks founder in March 2017 but Farage has previously insisted that he went to the Ecuadorian embassy for journalist­ic purposes.

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Nigel Farage has previously insisted that he visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for journalist­ic purposes.
GETTY IMAGES Nigel Farage has previously insisted that he visited Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London for journalist­ic purposes.

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