Nigel Farage, who met Donald Trump after the US election, has not been accused of wrongdoing. (Twitter: Nigel Farage)
Nigel Farage, a leading Brexit campaigner, has denied he is a “person of interest” in the US investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
- Farage “raised interest” because of relationships with Trump team and Assange, Guardian says
- WikiLeaks distributed material hacked from Democratic National Committee
- Former UKIP leader not said to be accused of wrongdoing
- Putin denies any hacking by Russian state
The Guardian newspaper, citing unidentified sources, said Mr Farage had not been accused of wrongdoing and was not a suspect or target of the US investigation.
But it said the former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party had “raised the interest” of FBI investigators because of his relationships with individuals connected to both the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
“I don’t believe it, I have no connections,” Mr Farage told the Daily Mail, calling the report “hysterical”.
“I have never been to Russia. I have never had any business dealings with Russia.”
On Twitter, Mr Farage said it had taken him a long time to read the Guardian article because he was “laughing so much at this fake news”.
“This hysterical attempt to associate me with the [Vladimir] Putin regime is a result of the liberal elite being unable to accept Brexit and Trump,” he said.
“I consider it extremely doubtful that I could be a person of interest to the FBI as I have no connections to Russia.”
When asked about the Guardian report, a UKIP spokesman said it was absurd.
“To my knowledge, the only serious Russian politician that Nigel has spent time with is Garry Kasparov,” the spokesman said.
CIA director Mike Pompeo has accused Assange’s WikiLeaks of seeking to interfere in the US election when it distributed material hacked from Democratic National Committee computers during the 2016 campaign.
Mr Pompeo said Russia’s GRU military intelligence service had used WikiLeaks to distribute the material and concluded that Russia stole the emails and took other actions to tilt the election in favour of Mr Trump.
Mr Farage, who has campaigned for decades for Britain to leave the European Union, was a vocal backer of Mr Trump.
He met the now-US President in New York just days after the election and attended the inauguration in Washington.
Mr Farage met Assange in March this year at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where he has been holed up for five years.
Russian state never involved in hacking: Putin
Vladimir Putin meanwhile denied that the Russian state has ever engaged in hacking, and scoffed at allegations that hackers could influence the outcome of elections in the US or Europe.
But the Russian leader admitted the possibility that some individual “patriotic” hackers could have mounted some attacks amid the current cold spell in Russia’s relations with the West.
Speaking at a meeting with senior editors of leading international news agencies, Mr Putin also alleged that some evidence pointing at Russian hackers’ participation in attacks — he didn’t specify which — could have been falsified in an attempt to smear Russia.
“I can imagine that some do it deliberately, staging a chain of attacks in such a way as to cast Russia as the origin of such an attack,” Mr Putin said.
“Modern technologies allow that to be done quite easily.”
US intelligence agencies have accused Russia of hacking into Democratic Party emails, helping Mr Trump win the election, and the Congressional and FBI investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia have shattered Moscow’s hopes for an easing of tensions with Washington.
Mr Putin said the “Russo-phobic hysteria” makes it “somewhat inconvenient to work with one another or even to talk”.
“It’s having an impact, and I’m afraid this is one of the goals of those who organise it are pursuing and they can fine-tune the public sentiments to their liking trying to establish an atmosphere that is going to prevent us from addressing common issues, say with regard to terrorism,” the said.
Mr Putin predicted “this will end, sooner or later”, adding that “we are patient, we know how to wait and we will wait”.
Asked if Russian hackers could try to shape the outcome of German parliamentary elections later this year, Mr Putin said: “We never engaged in that on a state level, and have no intention of doing so.”