USA judge delays ruling on 'interesting' Julian Assange case

USA judge delays ruling on 'interesting' Julian Assange case

On Tuesday, he further denied any knowledge of Manafort, his one-time business partner, and Assange meeting one-on-one.

Paul Manafort secretly met with Julian Assange three times, including once in the spring of 2016 - months before WikiLeaks released Democratic emails stolen by Russian Federation, according to a report published by the Guardian on Tuesday. But the last 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 Russian Federation.

The Guardian report, which was based on unnamed sources, claimed that Manafort had met Assange in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, in 2013, 2015 and 2016.

The report comes as Manafort faces an accusation of lying to Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller, who's investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

According to The Guardian, Manafort first visited Assange in 2013.

WikiLeaks said on Twitter that it was willing "to bet. a million dollars and the editor's head" that the story was wrong and the anti-secrecy group said it was launching a legal defense fund.

However, the Guardian report instantly fueled speculation about whether Mueller's probe had such information on Manafort - a day after Mueller's prosecutors alleged Manafort was lying to investigators in breach of his plea deal on "a variety of subject matters".

Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, denies any involvement in the email hack and his lawyers declined to comment to the Guardian.

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Graff also pointed out that Ecuador has removed the ambassador that was Assange's ally in London and have blocked Assange from meeting with his lawyers.

Manafort himself released a statement later Tuesday calling the article "libelous" and claiming he was thinking of suing The Guardian.

While the exact charges against Assange remain unclear, WikiLeaks has served as a vehicle for release of thousands of classified United States military and diplomatic cables.

The Guardian, which did not identify the sources for its reporting, said that Manafort met with Assange "around March 2016" - the same month that Russian hackers began their all-out effort to steal emails from the Clinton campaign.

The Russia investigation is already investigating how hundreds of stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee came to be published by WikiLeaks.

Manafort has been at the heart of several unresolved threads of the Robert Mueller investigation.

Manafort, 69, pleaded guilty on fraud and obstruction of justice charges on September 14 and agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for a lighter prison sentence.