Nigel Farage 'person of interest' in Trump-Russia probe

Ex-UKIP leader rejects claim he is 'person of interest' in inquiry into possible collusion during presidential campaign.

    The Guardian report says Farage is not an investigation suspect [File: Vincent Kessler/Reuters]
    The Guardian report says Farage is not an investigation suspect [File: Vincent Kessler/Reuters]

    Nigel Farage, a British MEP and former leader of the Brexit campaign, is a "person of interest" in the US investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump's presidential campaign, The Guardian newspaper has reported.

    Citing unidentified sources, The Guardian reported on Thursday that Farage had not been accused of wrongdoing and was not a suspect or target of the US investigation.

    But it said the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) had "raised the interest" of FBI investigators because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

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    A source told The Guardian newspaper: "One of the things the intelligence investigators have been looking at is points of contact and persons involved.

    "If you triangulate Russia, WikiLeaks, Assange and Trump associates the person who comes up with the most hits is Nigel Farage.

    "He's right in the middle of these relationships. He turns up over and over again. There's a lot of attention being paid to him."

    Contacted by Al Jazeera by phone, Farage said he was not making any comment yet.

    Still, he dismissed the idea that he could be a "person of interest" as "ridiculous", saying: "I am laughing so much I've not been able to finish the article in The Guardian yet."

    Farage earlier used Twitter to deny The Guardian story's claims, calling them "hysterical".

    Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna, reporting from Washington, DC, said that with the FBI refusing to comment on the ongoing investigation, there are little to no details or facts to go on in the Guardian report.

    "This report is more a question of proximity by numbers and doesn't present any concrete facts that he [Farage] is part of the FBI investigation."

    When asked about the Guardian report, a UKIP spokesperson said it was absurd.

    "To my knowledge, the only serious Russian politician that Nigel has spent time with is Garry Kasparov," the spokesman said.

    Mike Pompeo, the CIA director, has accused Assange's Wikileaks of seeking to interfere in the US election when it distributed material hacked from Democratic National Committee computers during the 2016 campaign.

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    Pompeo said Russia's GRU military intelligence service had used Wikileaks to distribute the material and concluded that Russia stole the emails and took other actions to tilt the election in favour of Trump, a Republican, over Hillary Clinton, the Democratic candidate.

    Farage, who has campaigned for decades for Britain to leave the European Union, was a vocal backer of Trump. He met Trump in New York just days after the election and attended the inauguration in Washington.

    Farage met Assange in March this year at the Ecuadorian embassy in London where he has been holed up for five years.

    THE LISTENING POST: WikiLeaks, political hacks and the US election

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


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