On 1 June 2017, The Guardian reported that former British politician and leading figure in the Brexit movement, Nigel Farage, is a “person of interest” in the Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into possible collusion between members of President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government:
Sources with knowledge of the investigation said the former Ukip leader had raised the interest of FBI investigators because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder whom Farage visited in March.
WikiLeaks published troves of hacked emails last year that damaged Hillary Clinton’s campaign and is suspected of having cooperated with Russia through third parties, according to recent congressional testimony by the former CIA director John Brennan, who also said the adamant denials of collusion by Assange and Russia were disingenuous.
Farage has not been accused of wrongdoing and is not a suspect or a target of the US investigation. But being a person of interest means investigators believe he may have information about the acts that are under investigation and he may therefore be subject to their scrutiny.
The FBI’s National Press Office declined to comment for this story. But Guardian quoted an unnamed source who said that investigators have come across Farage time and again through the course of their inquiry:
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.
Farage took to social media to deny the report, writing on Facebook that the suspicion of an association between himself and Russia was “hysterical”:
For the record I have never been to Russia, I’ve had no business dealings with Russia in my previous life and I have appeared approximately three times on RT in the last 18 months.
I consider it extremely doubtful that I could be a person of interest to the FBI as I have no connections to Russia.
My meeting with Julian Assange was organised for me by LBC Radio with a view to conducting an interview.
Assange, the founder of the document dumping web site WikiLeaks, has been hiding in the Ecuadoran embassy in London since 2012 after being charged with rape in Sweden. He has claimed that if he left the embassy, he could be extradited by the United States. Ecuador granted him asylum in 2012. In April 2017 CIA Director Mike Pompeo labeled WikiLeaks a “non-state hostile intelligence service often abetted by state actors like Russia.”