Russian officials reportedly discussed plans with an Ecuadorian minister to smuggle Wikileaks founder Julian Assange from the country's embassy in London to safe haven in Russia, according to a new report.
The Guardian reports that Ecuador's former London consul, Fidel Narváez, served as Assange's top ally in the ground-floor London facility where Assange has been staying for months as he faces what he calls politically-motivated charges of sexual assault and rape in Sweden.
According to The Guardian, Narváez and Russian officials discussed a plan to move Assange out of the embassy via diplomatic vehicle before eventually facilitating his travel to Russia or possibly another country.
The plan, originally set for Christmas Eve 2017, was abandoned due to thoughts it was "too risky," according to the report. Assange's possibility of travel to Ecuador by boat was also discussed.
Plans to move Assange were reportedly supported by other members of Ecuador's government as well, with The Guardian reporting that the country's intelligence chief, Rommy Vallejo, traveled to London in mid-December to oversee the operation before it was abandoned.
Four separate sources told the newspaper that the Kremlin was supportive of the plan, and added that an unidentified Russian businessman served as an intermediary between the two governments.
Narváez, however, has denied any involvement in a plan to move Assange or discussions with Russia about the possibility, and claimed that his discussions with Russia centered solely around the ongoing accusations from the British government of an alleged Russian poisoning of a spy on U.K. soil.
Russia's government rejected the story in a statement to The Guardian, calling it "fake news."
This is “another example of disinformation and fake news from the British media," the embassy tweeted Friday.