Nigel Farage has distanced himself from reports that he is a “person of interest” in the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The former Ukip leader and serving British MEP described a report from the Guardian as “hysterical” and claimed it is “extremely doubtful” he could be a person of interest as he has “no connections” to Russia.
Mr Farage, in a statement to the Press Association, also said he met WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “with a view to conducting an interview”.
Mr Farage, in a statement titled “fake news”, said: “In response to the Guardian article, it has taken me a long time to finish reading because I am laughing so much. “This hysterical attempt to associate me with the Putin regime is a result of the liberal elite being unable to accept Brexit and the election of President Trump.
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 (Russia Today) 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.”
Mr Farage’s office said he would be making no further comment on the matter.
The Guardian cited sources with knowledge of the US counter-intelligence investigation as saying Mr Farage had come to the attention of FBI investigators because of his links with individuals in Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and Mr Assange. It added that Mr Farage has not been accused of wrongdoing and is not a suspect or target of the investigation.
The newspaper quoted a source as saying: “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.” Mr Farage caused waves in the UK after beating British Prime Minister Theresa May to meet Mr Trump in person shortly after his election victory.
The US president later suggested Mr Farage should become British ambassador to the US.
In March, Buzzfeed published a photograph of Mr Farage leaving the Ecuadorian embassy where Mr Assange has been living since he claimed asylum. The website reported Mr Farage declined to comment on the meeting, attended by a senior LBC official.
In one of his appearances on Russia Today, Mr Farage was jokingly knighted by a girl dressed as the Queen who said: “My mummy says you hate foreigners.” Mr Farage laughed and replied: “I don’t think that’s quite right.”