Luke Harding/Guardian-gate: the plot thickens

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 at

5 responses to “Luke Harding/Guardian-gate: the plot thickens

  1. …beside the fact that they got a lot out mileage & benefit out of Assange & Wikileaks, were happy to use them for self-promotion…until you know who insisted they do otherwise. btw, the guardian is probably taking its orders on this from the British gov’t, not the US.

    • well, it’ more complicated than that. russia-gate and the mueller investigation are putatively based on ‘russians hacked the dnc and podesta emails at trump’s request to give to wikileaks to publish, guaranteeing his winning the presidency. harding is clear to read, as he’s already written a NYT allegedly non-fiction best-seller ‘Collusion’ arguing the case in the stupidist ways imaginable.

      the US originally convened a grand jury investigation of assange in 2010, but it was amerika who’d told sweden to hold him on rape charges (he was never charged, of course cuz it wasn’t so) so he could be extradited to the US. but it does aid the UK as a client state of the US for harding and collins to smear him. and once moreno essentially betrayed rafael correa and demanded his time in the embassy was over, the games began anew. grab teams outside the embassy scaffolding built again the wall where julian lives, security moved in the middle of the night which he’d discovered solely by way of some little advance warning signals he’d set up to wake him just in case.

      but add villavincenzio to the mix now: he’d aided the putsch against correa some years ago, tra la la…and that’s one of the guardian’s ‘sources’.(not that they don’t make up stuff up outta whole cloth anyway).

      one was ‘assange has an escape plan to be taken to russia, all with floor plans, elevation diagrams (so it would seem authentic)…by collyns, harding, and stephnie someone. the only good thing is other media orgs have finally twigged to the G’s black journalism now, or say they have.

      correa relocated in belgium citing moreno’s treatment of him, and tried to have him arrested there, but today’s news is belgium has refused the request. and again today, via the UK and moreno, ‘he can leave the embassy, spend six months is jail for skipping his bail hearing, and we guarantee he won’t be extradited to a nation (the US of course) that will seek the death penalty. yes, death would be preferable to a lifetime of torture in gitmo. but it’s not even news: he’d said it earlier.

      anyhoo, as the mueller investigation proceeds, and marcy mueller wheeler analyzes/speculates, yesterday i’d been reminded at her house that either stone or jerome corsi (serial liars) told the McCarthy Committee that one or the other had given the ‘hacked’ emails to assange. so…i hope on randy’s twit account, and found this at TRNN; haven’t taken the time to watch, and last i looked, no transcript. after he’d ‘appeared before the committee’ he’d had some hilarious things to say on twitter…

    • oh, an after wikileaks has published the CIA vaults 7 an 8 exploits, pompeo and john bolton were out for blood! as were democrats in general, of course. one of the hilarities of russiagate is that dems learned to looooove the cia, including ‘anonymous’ ones.

      and it’s been killing me to watch greenwald defend him for freedom of the press after all the damage he and snowden did assange, not to mention the three epic smears at the Intercept itself.

      • been a bit busy…yes, I overstated that. the Brits are on board so a distinction b/n the US and British gov’ts is somewhat irrelevant. It’s probably more important which part of any gov’t is priming the pump for the hatchet jobs on Assange (and others). though they jump on the wagon, like that loathsome turd Mark Warner, the civilian gov’t is so obviously not in charge here. Like the arrest of what’s her name in Canada: no matter what’s “really” going on, Trump is in the middle of trade talks (just for show or not) and this arrest happens.

        the “civilian” gov’t exists to ratify, proclaim and rationalize the policies of the “deep state” to the citizenry.

        • mornin’, j. i’m glad you weren’t too busy to cause me to read andre damon’s coverage on meng wanzhou’s kidnapping. the comments added a hella lot to the background. full command and control, unsurprisingly w/ trudeau. ‘not political’ he’d said. nope, financial and china spies threats, but not really about what they claim, though. (guardian has some of that)

          i’m poking around while trying to recall other things, such as sasha levine’s exposé of Tor, and i’ll try to write it up after i post another vignette.

          hope you’re doing okay out there, hard not to be concerned, yanno?

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