Elizabeth Vos, Disobedient Media
Common followers of WikiLeaks-related information are at this level [December 3, 2018] acquainted with the a number of critical infractions of journalistic ethics by Luke Harding and The Guardian, particularly (although not solely) on the subject of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks. Nevertheless, one other particular person on the coronary heart of this matter is way much less acquainted to the general public. That man is Fernando Villavicencio, a outstanding Ecuadorian political activist and journalist, director of the USAID-funded NGO Fundamedios and editor of on-line publication FocusEcuador.
Most readers are additionally conscious of The Guardian’s current publication of claims that Julian Assange met with former Trump marketing campaign supervisor Paul Manafort on three events. This has now been definitively debunked by Fidel Narvaez, the previous Consul at Ecuador’s London embassy between 2010 and 2018, who says Paul Manafort has by no means visited the embassy through the time he was in cost there. However this was hardly the primary time the outlet revealed a dishonest smear authored by Luke Harding towards Assange. The paper can also be no stranger to publishing tales based mostly on fabricated paperwork.
In Might, Disobedient Media reported on The Guardian’s hatchet-job referring to ‘Operation Hotel,’ or moderately, the traditional safety operations of the embassy beneath former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa. That hit-piece, co-authored by Harding and Dan Collyns, asserted amongst different issues that (in line with an nameless supply) Assange hacked the embassy’s safety system. The allegation was promptly refuted by Correa as “absurd” in an interview with The Intercept, and in addition by WikiLeaks as an “anonymous libel” with which the Guardian had “gone too far this time. We’re suing.”
A shared factor of The Guardian’s ‘Operation Hotel’ fabrications and the newest libel trying to hyperlink Julian Assange to Paul Manafort is none aside from Fernando Villavicencio of FocusEcuador. In 2014 Villavicencio was caught passing a cast doc to The Guardian, which revealed it with out verifying it. When the forgery was revealed, The Guardian hurriedly took the doc down however then tried to cowl up that it had been tampered with by Villavicencio when it re-posted it a number of days later.
How is Villavicencio tied to The Guardian’s newest smear of Assange? Intimately, it seems.
Who’s Fernando Villavicencio?
Earlier this yr, an unbiased journalist writing beneath the pseudonym Jimmyslama penned a complete report detailing Villavicencio’s relationships with pro-US actors inside Ecuador and the US. She sums up her findings, that are value studying in full:
“…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.”
As most readers recall, it was Correa who granted Assange asylum within the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. Villavicencio was so vehemently against Rafael Correa’s socialist authorities that through the failed 2010 coup towards Correa he falsely accused the President of “crimes against humanity” by ordering police to fireside on the crowds (it was truly Correa who was being shot at). Correa sued him for libel, and gained, however pardoned Villavicencio for the damages awarded by the courtroom.
Assange authorized analyst Hanna Jonasson lately made the hyperlink between the Ecuadorian forger Villavicencio and Luke Harding’s Guardian tales based mostly on doubtful paperwork specific. She Tweeted: 2014 Ecuador’s Overseas Ministry accused the Guardian of publishing a narrative based mostly on a doc it says was fabricated by Fernando Villavicencio, pictured under with the authors of the pretend Manafort-Assange ‘secret meeting’ story, Harding and Collyns.”
Jonasson included a hyperlink to a 2014 official Ecuadorian authorities assertion which reads partially: “There is also evidence that the author of this falsified document is Fernando Villavicencio, a convicted slanderer and opponent of Ecuador’s current government. This can be seen from the file properties of the document that the Guardian had originally posted (but which it has since taken down and replaced with a version with this evidence removed).” The assertion additionally notes that Villavicencio had fled the nation after his conviction for libeling Correa in the course of the 2010 coup and was at the moment dwelling as a fugitive in the USA.
It’s extremely vital, as Jonasson argues, that the authors of The Guardian’s newest libelous article have been photographed with Villavicencio in Ecuador shortly earlier than publication of The Guardian’s declare that Assange had carried out conferences with Manafort.
Jonasson’s Twitter thread additionally states: “This video from the news wire Andes alleges that Villavicencio’s name appeared in the metadata of the document originally uploaded alongside The Guardian’s story.” The 2014 Guardian piece, which aimed a falsified shot at then-President Rafael Correa, wouldn’t be the final time Villavicencio’s identify would seem on a controversial Guardian story earlier than being scrubbed from existence.
Simply days after the backlash towards The Guardian reached fever-pitch, Villavicencio had the gall to publish one other picture of himself with Harding and Collyns, gloating : “One of my greatest journalistic experiences was working for months on Assange’s research with colleagues from the British newspaper the Guardian, Luke Harding, Dan Collins and the young journalist Cristina Solórzano from @ somos_lafuente” [Translated from Spanish]
The tweet suggests, however doesn’t particularly state, that Villavicencio labored with the disastrous duo on the Assange-Manafort piece. Given the historical past and associations of all concerned, this assertion alone ought to trigger excessive skepticism in any unsubstantiated claims, or ‘anonymously sourced’ claims, The Guardian makes regarding Julian Assange and Ecuador.
Astoundingly, and counter to Villavicencio’s uncharacteristic coyness, a current video posted by WikiLeaks by way of Twitter does present that Villavicencio was initially listed as a co-author of The Guardian’s Manafort-Assange allegations, earlier than his identify was edited out of the web article. The unique model might be seen, nevertheless, because of archive providers.
The two pictures of Villavicencio with Harding and Collyns, in addition to the proof displaying he co-authored the piece, doesn’t simply seize a trio of horrible journalists, it paperwork the involvement of a number of actors related to intelligence businesses and fabricated tales.
All of this provoke the query: did Villavicencio present extra bogus paperwork to Harding and Collyns – Harding stated he’d seen a doc, although he didn’t publish one (and even quote from it) so readers may decide its veracity for themselves – or maybe these three invented the accusations out of whole-cloth?
Both approach, to cite WikiLeaks, The Guardian has “gone too far this time” and its already-tattered fame is in complete shambles.
Profitable Propaganda, Failed Journalism
Craig Murray calls Harding an “MI6 software“, however to this author, Harding appears worse than an MI6 stooge: He’s a wannabe-spook, hanging from the coat-tails of nameless intelligence officers and publishing their drivel as reality with out a lot as a skeptical blink. His lack of self-awareness and conflation of anecdote with proof units him aside as both one of the crucial blatant, fumbling propagandists of our period, or probably the most hapless hack journalist to stain the pages of printed information.
To present essential context on Harding’s earlier journalistic irresponsibility, we once more recall that he co-authored the notorious ebook containing the encryption password of all the Cablegate archive, resulting in a leak of the unredacted State Division Cables throughout the web. Though the responsible Guardian journalists tried responsible Assange for the debacle, it was they themselves who ended up on the receiving finish of some well-deserved scorn.
In addition to persevering with The Guardian’s and Villavicencio’s vendetta towards Assange and WikiLeaks, it’s clearly in Harding’s monetary pursuits to conflate the pending prosecution of Assange with Russiagate. As this author beforehand famous, Harding penned a guide on the topic, titled: “Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money, and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.” Tying Assange to Russiagate is sweet for enterprise, because it stokes public curiosity within the self-evidently defective narrative his ebook helps.
Much more regarding is the declare amongst publishing circles, fueled by current occasions, that Harding could also be writing one other guide on Assange, with publication presumably timed for his pending arrest and extradition and designed to money in on the trial. If that’s in truth the case, the spectre arises that Harding is working to push for Assange’s arrest, not simply on behalf of US, UK or Ecuadorian intelligence pursuits, but in addition to extend his personal e-book gross sales.
That Harding and Collyns labored intensively with Villavicencio for “months” on the “Assange story,” the truth that Villavicencio was initially listed as a co-author on the unique model of the Guardian’s article, and the current denial by Fidel Narvaez, raises the probability that Harding and The Guardian weren’t merely the victims of dangerous sources who duped them, as claimed by some.
It signifies that the pretend story was constructed intentionally on behalf of the exact same intelligence institution that The Guardian is these days solely too joyful to take the knee for.
In abstract, some of the seen institution media retailers revealed a pretend story on its entrance web page, in an try and manufacture an important cross-over between the pending prosecution of Assange and the Russiagate saga. This represents the newest instance in an onslaught of faux information directed at Julian Assange and WikiLeaks ever since they revealed the most important CIA leak in historical past within the type of Vault 7, an onslaught which seems to be constructing in each depth and absurdity as time goes on.
The Guardian has destroyed its status, and within the course of, revealed the desperation of the institution in terms of Assange.