On the 27th of November 2018 the Guardian posted a story claiming that former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian embassy in London on three occasions in 2013, 2015 and 2016.
Almost immediately one of the co-authors named Fernando Villavicencio had his name removed from the online article, but still remains on the print copy. In less than four hours they had reworded the article without declaration, adding ‘alleged’ and ‘supposed’ to the central claims. By the end of the day they had quietly disowned the story, and have not promoted nor followed up on any of the claims since.
This is because it’s completely fictitious. It’s textbook ‘fake news’, but of the Anglo-Saxon rather than Slavic variety and therefore useless to the narrative which currently returns the most shares on Facebook and most lucrative ad clicks.
It was co-written by Luke Harding, a man who is currently cashing Amazon cheques for a book on the topic in question and harbours a long-standing personal feud with the subject of the story, clearly disqualifying the Guardian from running it under any definition of responsible journalism. A man named as a co-author in the print version but removed online, Fernando Villavicencio, was previously convicted in Ecuador of forging official documents to sell a story to the Guardian. He is an associate of the US Intelligence Community and played a vital part in the attempted coup of the socialist Rafael Correa, who gave Assange asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy as President.