Luke Harding/Guardian-gate: the plot thickens (updated a bit)

For background, see snoopydawg’s exposé on the Guardian’s 'Paul Manafort Secretly Met With Julian Assange Multiple Times’ ‘gold-standard’ of yellow journalism.

A few outtakes:

“This has now been definitively debunked by Felix Narvaez, the former Consul at Ecuador’s London embassy between 2010 and 2018, who says Paul Manafort has never visited the embassy during the time he was in charge there. But this was hardly the first time the outlet published a dishonest smear authored by Luke Harding against Assange. The paper is also no stranger to publishing stories based on fabricated documents.

In May, Disobedient Media reported on the Guardian’s hatchet-job relating to ‘Operation Hotel,’ or rather, the normal security operations of the embassy under former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. That hit-piece, co-authored by Harding and Dan Collyns, asserted among other things that (according to an anonymous source) Assange hacked the embassy’s security system. The allegation was promptly refuted by Correa as “absurd” in an interview with The Intercept, and also by WikiLeaks as an “anonymous libel” with which the Guardian had “gone too far this time. We’re suing.”

A shared element of The Guardian’s ‘Operation Hotel’ fabrications and the latest libel attempting to link Julian Assange to Paul Manafort is none other than Fernando Villavicencio of FocusEcuador. In 2014 Villavicencio was caught passing a forged document to the Guardian, which published it without verifying it. When the forgery was revealed, the Guardian hurriedly took the document down but then tried to cover up that it had been tampered with by Villavicencio when it re-posted it a few days later.

How is Villavicencio tied to The Guardian’s latest smear of Assange? Intimately, it turns out.

Who is Fernando Villavicencio?”

She links to this:

A few bits and bobs:

“Fernando Villavicencio is a journalist, activist, and former union advisor for the oil industry who just so happened to also co-author one of The Guardian’s articles published last month during their almost week-long smear campaign against Julian Assange and former President Rafael Correa.  However, he’s attacked these men in the past, his contribution to The Guardian hardly being his first rodeo.  In 2010, his associates supported an attempted coup against Correa and then he and others sued Correa for the deaths and injuries that occurred during the uprising.  In 2013, he forged the documents of an agreement between Ecuador and China, and in 2015, he published questionable and unverified documents about Assange and the security system at the Ecuador Embassy in London.  Perhaps more notably, he has ties to Thor Halvorssen (there’s that name…again), U.S.-funded NGOs, and the U.S. intelligence community.

With Julian Assange going on eighty days incommunicato and Ecuador’s most recent and shocking statements about his asylum, liberty, and free speech, Villavicencio’s ties call into question exactly what kind of game The Guardian and other media outlets were playing when they unleashed their international, coordinated attack against Assange last month and for whom were they playing it?

While none of the candidates will return the bilateral relationshp to the halcyon days when then-president-elect Lucio Gutierrez declared himself our ‘strongest ally in Latin America,’ none of the top contenders would affect USG interests as thoroughly as Rafael Correa.

— U.S. Embassy in Quito, 2006 WikiLeaks cable

Before Rafael Correa was even elected president of Ecuador in 2006, the U.S. government had concerns about his staunch loyalty to Ecuador’s sovereignty and his repugnance for anything that remotely smelled like U.S. imperialism.  And there was good reason to be concerned.  Before the election he vowed to end Ecuador’s ties to the IMF and World Bank, in 2009, he refused to renew the U.S. military’s lease at the Ecuadorian military base in Manta, and in mid-2010, he nationalized the country’s oil industry.  It was only a matter of time before someone plotted a coup.

That day came on September 30, 2010, when rogue police and military officers took to the streets and over a number of facilities in Quito including a hospital, the airport, and a news station, in protest of a new law they believed reduced police benefits.  Correa went outside to speak with the protestors but was met with tear-gas and physical violence.  After he was taken to a hospital he was held hostage until special military forces were able to retrieve him.  In total, eight people were killed and two hundred seventy-four suffered injuries as a result of the uprising.

So how was this able to happen?  For starters, police infiltration and oppositional parties’ and individuals ties to U.S.-funded NGOs.”

It’s an epically long and fascinating exposé; the rest is here.  He ends with Part Two:

“There’s actually a second part to this story that needs to be written which includes forgery, hacked emails, Villavicencio’s news site, Focus Ecuador (a source for The Guardian), recent events, and recent Guardian articles.  But even if I didn’t write one, the information in this post alone should make everyone question why in the world The Guardian would continue to use a source like Villavicencio who is obviously tied to the U.S. government, the CIA, individuals like Thor Halvorssen and Bill Browder, and opponents of both Julian Assange and former President Rafael Correa.

It’s become impossible to believe that their smear campaign last month was entirely their idea and not at the behest of the U.S. government.  But either way, The Guardian has proven itself as a media outlet essentially willing to openly push for the extradition, torture and/or death of fellow journalists and publishers like Julian Assange.  Like I asked previously, “How in the fuck does anyone at the Guardian sleep at night?”

Good job, Jimmy’s Llama.

(Cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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wendy davis's picture

although i'd published it first at the Café so they would come over here via easy copy, and i'd embedded the tweets separately here. how frustrating for us all. guess you'll need to click into the titles linked in the tweets if you want the embedded links.

what a puzzle this is.

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All the Assange stuff has been incredible, prompting Obama to seek to eradicate the First Amendment freedom of the press via a statute, which, obviously, is not how the Constitution gets amended. The erstwhile University of Chicago equal rights law lecturer who somehow got the reputation of having been a Constitutional law professor wanted Congress to pass a statute that would give government the right to decide which publishers were "really" publishers and which publishers were not really publishers. And of course, the establishment msm that toadied to government (and vice versa) would be the "actual" publishers, while publishers like wikileaks and only heaven knows who else, would not be the "really publishers."

Difi the DINO--or should I say, the other DINO, bless her the soul she sold to Mephistopheles--tried introducing the unconstitutional POS bill that Obama instigated, but it never went anywhere. For that, I assume that we can thank members of the Senate, if any, who may have read the Constitution for comprehension. And then, the First Amendment would not give any protection to the "presses" of the publishers whom the US government decided were not the "really publishers!

Of course, the inspiration for the First Amendment was Peter Zenger who wanted to attack government of his colony, which jailed him for so doing. And, of course, the First Amendment prohibits Congress from making any law that would abridge freedom of speech or freedom of the press--and not only the press that didn't ruffle any of the government's feathers.

As far as it protecting only the msm that dances to government's tune and vice versa, when the Constitution was written and ratified, anyone who nailed a rant to a tree trunk was considered a "publisher" and/or a speaker. Then again, Obama never taught the First Amendment, nor most of the rest of the Constitution for that matter.

Everything that has been done to the Assange by us or by other nations at our urging has been unspeakably shameful, inhumane and, IMO, violative of the Constitution. So much for sunlight being the best disinfectant. One would hope that some perp somewhere would be embarrassed.

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wendy davis's picture

@HenryAWallace

to whinge, but i'm utterly baffled about the hyperlink failures. i'd a sworn i'd chosen 'easy copy html code' correctly, but dagnabbit, i'd run out of time to try it all over again.

but please explain what law difi and obomba had crafted as to which journalists are 'real journalists'? but that such a great #fake constitutional scholar had done such a plethora of extra-constitutional deeds...i agree. and yeppers: soviet rule samizdat papers nailed to trees comes to mind as journalism.

i do remember some saying that obomba hadn't pursued charges against julian citing the 'new york times problem', but the grand jury was seated in 2010 if if i recall correctly. i was just moved to tears by stefania maurizi's description of his (non) well-being when she was finally permitted (after eight months) to visit him at the embassy.

'The detention and isolation from the world of Julian Assange, The founder of WikiLeaks is under great strain and is preparing to defend himself from US charges', nov. 26, 2018

"They are destroying him slowly. They are doing it through an indefinite detention which has been going on for the last eight years with no end in sight. Julian Assange has become one of the most widely known icons of freedom of the press and the struggle against state secrecy. Recently, his detention in the Ecuadorian embassy in London has been joined by isolation, strict rules and various forms of pressure which seem to have no other purpose than to break him down. A grip meant to destroy his physical and mental ability to resist until he either breaks down or he steps out of the Ecuadorian embassy, unleashing the beginning of his own end. Because if he does step out, he will be arrested by the UK authorities, and at that point the US could request his extradition so that they can put him in jail for publishing classified US documents. Julian Assange is in extremely precarious conditions." [snip]

"As soon as we saw him, we realised he has lost a lot of weight. Too much. He is so skinny. Not even his winter sweater can hide his skinny shoulders. His nice-looking face, captured by photographers all around the world, is very tense. His long hair and beard make him look like a hermit, though not a nutter: as we exchange greetings, he seems very lucid and rational.",

etc.

given that you seem to have great analytical heft, i wonder if you might explain why on earth wikileaks had retweeted this NYT piece? i'd found myself blink-blinking again at their blockbuster 'exposé'. ‘Manafort Discussed Deal With Ecuador to Hand Assange Over to U.S.’, Kenneth P. Vogel and Nicholas Casey, Dec. 3, 2018

it's full of 'sources say', facts not in evidence, and 'manafort's attorney says', almost by way of admission or something. now moreno's already sold his soul to the devil, the fuquewad, but this just seemed 'made for mueller'. wel, if you haven't time to read it, i'll sure understand, henryAwallace.

Villavicencio? two birds of a feather, to quote a worn-out homily.

will they construct a medial emergency for julian and take him to the 'hospital' soon?

on edit: damn, the belushi was great! thanks for that.

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ggersh's picture

@wendy davis tptb are in full control and tRump has
given us the normalization of all BS is now
fact, yep it was written, yep it's been twitted
man unless a revolution (peaceful) happens we
our children and their children are so screwed

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The US markets will be closed tomorrow in honor of George H. W. Bush.

We should have a memorial day for the truth, which we have allowed to be led down the blind alley of our willful delusions, and strangled.

Lord have mercy on us.

wendy davis's picture

@ggersh

for the war criminal's funeral. sure as hell hope it's a paid holiday! if those are the cliffs notes for jimmy dore's rant, what's it got to do with Boss Tweet?

p.s. i kinda feel like the Lone Ranger here in that i (ahem) don't care for dore. if i had had an extra 21 minutes, i might dust this sluttishly-kept house. ; )

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@wendy davis

It set up a group in the State Dept. assigned to determine what IS and what ISN'T propaganda. Guess he never anticipated that Trump is the person who now oversees that power. But then Obama doesn't care. He's off destroying public parks to glorify his legacy.

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-24/obama-signs-countering-disinfo...

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

wendy davis's picture

@Fishtroller 02

from henryAwallace's 'the bill went nowhere', obomba just stuck the amendment into the NDAA bill. smoooooth. thanks, if i'd known that once, i'd sure forgotten.

and here i was thinking he'd convinced the WaPo to do all the calibrations for their PropOrNot Big List Project. given my relationship to the (aptly named, imo) Intercept, i've long laughed online that that media organization sho' ain't on the Prop List. how many 'fearless investigative journalists' are in their stable now? so many that they've stopped listing them all. 60? more? that buzzfeed IS on the Not list also slays me. ; )

hard to watch people call Trump a fascist while not naming his predecessor one a well, isn't it? thanks for enlightening me, fishtroller.

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@wendy davis

Well.... when you get on a kick, like I did about Obama's record, you find all kinds of nasty stuff.

https://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/obama-waives-child-soldier-ban-yemen-cong...

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"Without the right to offend, freedom of speech does not exist." Taslima Nasrin

wendy davis's picture

@Fishtroller 02

the list would indeed be epic. i did a short series 'this is not trump fascism', but bingling doesn't kick any up. but one that toasted my cookies was you'd have thought that it was herr trump who'd invented deporting migrants from the south, and caging them at the border. not on your nellie.

i also did 'the café babylon war and moar war report now and again': all obomba. police state militarism? same thing. creating isis? obomba via R2P libya. assassinating amerikan citizens by drone? economic war on main street amerikans post-2008 meltdown? bet your list is a long un as well. hearing from that war criminal now you'd think he thinks he was a saint.

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@wendy davis

info, starting with 2018, no matter how well the search terms that you enter describe what you are looking for. And then, government has been mucking with google, just as it has been mucking with twitter and facebook. And I have limited patience to sort thought pages of irrelevant hits. But I did get some relevant links. Clever of Obama to wrap that turd up in a federal shield law, no?

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/08/why-sen-feinstein-wrong-about-whos...

https://www.calaware.org/feinstein-no-shield-law-for-bloggers-wikileaks/

https://www.politico.com/blogs/under-the-radar/2010/12/bond-and-feinstei...

https://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2013/09/18/holes-in-media-shield-la...

And, when all else fails.....https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052748703989004575653280626335258

The reason that I know that Difi was doing the shield law bit on behalf of Obama was that, soon after wikileaks had published the Manning stuff I had read that Obama wanted to define publishers like wikileaks out of First Amendment protection. Not much after that, I started reading about Difi pushing the crap in the Senate. Then, I noticed that she often did Obama's dirty work.

Sorry about the rest of your post. I am just too wrapped up in holiday stuff to spare the time and energy today. I REALLY apologize, but I can't.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/01/28/AR201101...

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snoopydawg's picture

.
which Wikileaks denied ever happened.

In the months after Mr. Moreno took office, the Ecuadorean government granted citizenship to Mr. Assange and secretly pursued a plan to provide him a diplomatic post in Russia as a way to free him from confinement in the embassy in London. (That plan was ultimately dropped in the face of opposition from British authorities, who have said they will arrest Mr. Assange if he leaves the embassy.

There's no evidence that Manafort ever did went to Ecuador to work out a deal.

There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort was working with — or even briefing — President Trump or other administration officials on his discussions with the Ecuadoreans about Mr. Assange. Nor is there any evidence that his brief involvement in the talks was motivated by concerns about the role that Mr. Assange and WikiLeaks played in facilitating the Russian effort to help Mr. Trump in the 2016 presidential election, or the investigation into possible coordination between Mr. Assange and Mr. Trump’s associates, which has become a focus for Mr. Mueller.

In at least two meetings with Mr. Manafort, Mr. Moreno and his aides discussed their desire to rid themselves of Mr. Assange, who has been holed up in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London since 2012, in exchange for concessions like debt relief from the United States, according to three people familiar with the talks, the details of which have not been previously reported

.

Three people who are familiar .... ? This sh*t again? If you have sources then name them. And why are they just coming forward with this information now? Hmm? Nope. I am not buying it. This is just another CIA psyops that people will believe even though there are no credible sources listed. This is just like that Guardian hit piece and then the Politco one saying that if they got it wrong then Russia is to blame. Someone has deep pockets to cover the lawsuits that are coming. Someone such as the CIA or our government?

And then this whole article falls apart when it states that Assange and Wikileaks worked with Russia on Hillary's emails. Put this in any article and I know that it's full of crap.

Read a diary on ToP this morning that was about how Mueller is nowhere close to finishing his investigation. (damn) The reason why was because Mueller hasn't spoken with the guy from Trump's campaign that worked with Russians to decide which emails to release.

No idea why Wikileaks tweeted this.

Guess we won't be seeing the secret charges against Julian yet.

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

wendy davis's picture

@snoopydawg

of my quick analysis. it smelled pretty creepy to me as well. but ye gods and little fishes, stefania maurizi on twitter had called it 'a must read'. (??)

in your first quote, was that the one with th floor plans for the embassy demonstrating the escape plan? if so, that un was one hella stupid psyop to bring. guess they'd thunk the elevations made it...er...believable? was that harding and collyns? i've forgotten already.

but villavicencio? jeezum crow, and how cool that jimmy's llama's exposé predated all of this?

thanks for the extras, snoopydawg.

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snoopydawg's picture

@wendy davis

Rocky and Natasha driving the getaway car. I do believe that Luke wrote that one too. Busy boy ...

IMG_2870.PNG

The sad thing is that people are going to believe anything they read just because they hate Trump so much and want him gone. The media are not even trying to hide their disdain for Julian because people agree with them.

IMG_2833.JPG

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Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

wendy davis's picture

@snoopydawg

link below, i hadn't known (or remembered) that saint luke was a moscow correspondent. but elizabeth vos also had a few insights into the twined get-assange, get trump connection:

“Craig Murray calls Harding an “MI6 tool“, but to this writer, Harding seems worse than an MI6 stooge: He’s a wannabe-spook, hanging from the coat-tails of anonymous intelligence officers and publishing their drivel as fact without so much as a skeptical blink. His lack of self-awareness and conflation of anecdote with evidence sets him apart as either one of the most blatant, fumbling propagandists of our era, or the most hapless hack journalist to stain the pages of printed news.

To provide important context on Harding’s previous journalistic irresponsibility, we again recall that he co-authored the infamous book containing the encryption password of the entire Cablegate archive, leading to a leak of the unredacted State Department Cables across the internet. Although the guilty Guardian journalists tried to blame Assange for the debacle, it was they themselves who ended up on the receiving end of some well-deserved scorn.

In addition to continuing the Guardian’s and Villavicencio’s vendetta against Assange and WikiLeaks, it is clearly in Harding’s financial interests to conflate the pending prosecution of Assange with Russiagate. As this writer previously noted, Harding penned a book on the subject, titled: “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.” Tying Assange to Russiagate is good for business, as it stokes public interest in the self-evidently faulty narrative his book supports.

Even more concerning is the claim amongst publishing circles, fueled by recent events, that Harding may be writing another book on Assange, with publication presumably timed for his pending arrest and extradition and designed to cash in on the trial. If that is in fact the case, the specter arises that Harding is working to push for Assange’s arrest, not just on behalf of US, UK or Ecuadorian intelligence interests, but also to increase his own book sales."

but really, the NYT 'exposé', given that that paper of record is said to be a mouthpiece of the CIA, you have to think: mueller, yes? i wonder if maurizi rec'd it because: english as a second language?

she'd also noted that it had first been hannah jonnason who'd busted the guardian for leaving out Villavicencio's byline in the online version of the craptastic story, and when i'd seen her tweet the other day...the media was so small i couldn't make sense of it...until wikileaks tweeted the video with closeups.

so...it was also she who'd discovered the big Three meeting in ecudaor, hence...the photo.
but she's also said on twitter:

@AssangeLegal · 13h13 hours ago "Ecuador's President having met Manafort is old news.
Ecuador's willingness to trade Assange for debt relief is new news.

Ecuador communiqué of 20 November 2017 acknowledging President @Lenin Moreno met with Manafort "before any criminal investigations were underway against him", whatever that means.

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Bollox Ref's picture

and relaunch under Viner, The Guardian really is not a fierce defender of those left by the wayside, that it still pretends to be.

If you want to read a Hadley Freeman article on the other hand..... you're in luck.

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Gëzuar!!
from a reasonably stable genius.

wendy davis's picture

@Bollox Ref

i'd had to bingle her name. NOT to bee confused with hedley lamarr, blazing saddles.

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The minute I heard that Harding was behind this story I dismissed it as pure propaganda. Harding has been a well-known surveillance state shill at least since the Snowden story broke. Here's a story link re: Greenwald's and Wikileaks' takedown of Harding's credibility from early February, 2014: "WikiLeaks, Greenwald blast Guardian journalist’s book on ‘FSB prisoner’ Snowden."

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"Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe." --Thomas Jefferson

wendy davis's picture

@bobswern

the self-described story-teller. do you remember if it were he who'd claimed that russia might swap snowden for assange?

the link you gave gjohnsit to the diary you'd written 'somewhere else' was great, too, in the spirit of NDAA allows/prefers massive lying to amerikan citizenship. your rage was palpable.

elizabeth vos had featured a link to sputnik news in which craig murray head called harding an MI-6 tool: ‘Guardian Working for UK Intel Services? 'MI6 Tool' Publishes 'Black Propaganda', sputnik news, sept. 24, 2018

it's rather wide-ranging debunking of the guardian's dark journalism from novichok to pablo miller, christopher steele... but one internal link goes to the 'assange plan to be smuggled out of the embassy' with the floor plans and elevations...but yeppers, it was indeed written by Stephanie Kirchgaessner, Dan Collyns and Luke Harding, such a dynamic duo + 1.

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wendy davis's picture

but i gotta say i feel like a tool for not being able to connect all the dots w/ the guardian's fuckkery; the NYT i get: the caveats and incidentals, yes: manafort didn't respond as he had other big bidness there, hoping to score big.

but mine eyes are as kaput as my lame brain is for tonight. closing song? gotta go with:

hope your sleep is good, and your dreams are as well, or at least...teaching moments.

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wendy davis's picture

Rt has 'breaking news' from the UK via lenin moreno: 'UK has provided ‘guarantees’ Assange won’t be extradited to face death penalty – Ecuador’s president'

big.fucking.woop.

"That has long been a concern for Assange and those advocating for him, as he could potentially face the death penalty if extradited to the US for his leak of a huge trove of diplomatic cables in 2010. He faces charges of espionage, conspiracy, theft of government property, and computer fraud in the US, and Donald Trump's administration has stated that the Wikileaks founder's arrest is a top priority.

Moreno didn't say that his country would force Assange out of the embassy, but said the Wikileaks founder's legal team is considering its next steps.

"There is a path for Mr. Assange to take the decision to exit into near freedom," Moreno said in the local radio interview, while noting that the whistleblower still faces jail time in the UK for violating bail terms when he sought asylum to avoid being extradited to Sweden, where he was wanted for questioning in a sexual assault investigation.

However, the UK has reportedly told Ecuador that his jail time for skipping bail would not exceed six months."

no, solitary confinement and other tortures are what he fears. and as if he'd take the word of the UK and moreno.

and although i can't read spanish, wikileaks has posted this: @wikileaks
Dec 5 WikiLeaks Retweeted Rafael Correa

"Ecuador's immediately former president responds to New York Times report that his successor offered to sell WikiLeaks' publisher Julian Assange's to the U.S. government in exchange for debt relief. Subsequently Ecuador received $1.1 billion from US controlled banks."

now this is excellent news for correa, though:

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wendy davis's picture

no transcript yet:

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