Published: Wed, November 28, 2018
Global Media | By Jackie Banks

United States judge delays ruling on 'interesting' Julian Assange case

United States judge delays ruling on 'interesting' Julian Assange case

Sources close to WikiLeaks say the case may not be related to the probe by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 USA presidential election but add that they do not know what the charges concern.

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.

Paul Manafort met in secret multiple times with Julian Assange before the Wikileaks founder published emails that were the product of Russian hacking, according to The Guardian.

Katie Townsend, a lawyer for the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, which brought the lawsuit to unseal the case, said Assange's advisers have long suspected there were secret charges against him for publishing US government secrets. The last meeting took place around March 2016, at about the time Manafort joined Trump's USA presidential campaign, the news outlet said.

The publication also announced on Tuesday that it has launched a "legal fund to sue the Guardian for publishing [an] entirely fabricated story".

WikiLeaks, meanwhile, quickly denied the Guardian's report, indicating Manafort never met with Assange.

"This story is totally false and deliberately libelous", Manafort said in the statement.

Manafort, meanwhile, has violated the plea agreement he negotiated with prosecutors after that conviction in August, according to court documents filed on Monday.

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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.

Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, declined to discuss the report during Tuesday's press briefing, though she reiterated the president was not involved in any "wrongdoing" or "collusion".

Kromberg insisted that the Reporters Committee and other journalists who say they've spoken to confidential government sources who confirmed Assange has been secretly charged with an undisclosed crime were just "speculating".

Manafort's lawyers did not immediately return messages from The Associated Press.

He then launched into an attack on Mueller's investigation and team of prosecutors, who he claimed are unduly coercing Manafort.

Trump has railed against the special counsel probe since Mueller's appointment previous year, often calling the investigation a "witch hunt" and a "hoax".

Also fueling that discussion has been Trump himself, who has used his Twitter account to inveigh against Mueller and his office and what Trump calls the "Justice" Department - with sarcasm quotes.

The team of journalists given access to him last week say he now spends most of his time preparing for his criminal defense against the USA charges. "Months later WikiLeaks released a stash of Democratic emails stolen by Russian intelligence officers".

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