Nigel Farage 'named as person of interest' in FBI investigation into links between Russia and Trump campaign

Former Ukip leader describes 'extremely doubtful' claims as 'fake news'

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Nigel Farage is reportedly being treated as a "person of interest" in the FBI's investigation into alleged links between Donald Trump's campaign team and Russia.

The former Ukip politician has been drawn into the probe because of his relationships with Mr Trump's aides and Julian Assange, the Guardian reports.

“One of the things the intelligence investigators have been looking at is points of contact and persons involved,” a source told the newspaper. 

“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.”

​​Being a “person of interest” in the ongoing probe does not imply wrongdoing, and is used to describe people who have information that can assist an investigation.

The FBI declined to comment when contacted by The Independent.

Mr Farage dismissed the report, telling the Daily Mail: “I don't believe it. I have never been to Russia. I have never had any business dealings with Russia.”

Farage is 'knighted' on Russia Today programme

In a statement, the serving MEP described the Guardian's report as “fake news”, claiming he laughed as he read it.

"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," Mr Farage said.

“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."

Mr Farage met the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian Embassy in March, months after the campaign group released hacked DNC emails credited with turning the US election in Mr Trump's favour.

When questioned on the reason for the encounter, he said it was organised by LBC Radio with a view to conducting an interview.

Mr Farage was also the first British politician to meet Mr Trump after his election victory, making a high-profile visit to Trump Tower in New York.

He is believed to have previously met the President on the campaign trail in Mississippi in August, and attended the Republican national convention in Ohio when Mr Trump was nominated in July.

Mr Farage also has links with Breitbart founder and White House strategist Steve Bannon, as well as other Trump campaigners and aides.

He said he has "never received a penny from Russia" but admits meeting Russian officials including Moscow's ambassador to the UK, Alexander Yakovenko, and has made appearances on the state-owned Russia Today channel.

Mr Farage appeared on US programme Fox and Friends - one of the President's favourite shows - on Thursday, attacking Hillary Clinton as a "bad loser...who blames everyone else for her own failings".

The FBI's investigation is under fresh scrutiny after the firing of the agency's former director, James Comey, after he reportedly refused Mr Trump's request to drop an investigation into Michael Flynn.

It is running alongside separate probes in Congress into alleged Russian interference in the presidential election, which Vladimir Putin has repeatedly denied.

Speaking at a meeting with international news agencies on Thursday, the Russian President said his government has never been involved with hacking.

Picture: (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

He said that some individual “patriotic” hackers could attacks amid worsening relations with the West but insisted that “we don't engage in that at the state level".

US intelligence agencies have accused Mr Putin of personally commissioning the DNC email hack and other interference helping Mr Trump to victory, although he has denied the claims.

An online persona calling themselves Guccifer 2.0 have claimed responsibility for stealing the communications, which were published by WikiLeaks.

The cyber attack was previously blamed on a group of Russian hackers known as Fancy Bear or APT28, who were also linked with hacks targeting Emmanuel Macron before the French presidential election.

Mr Trump and Mr Putin pledged to improve US-Russia relations when he took office but tensions have risen over the American attack on a Syrian government air base and other issues.

Mr Putin said the current atmosphere “makes it somewhat inconvenient to work with one another or even to talk, but some day this will have to stop".

He claimed Mr Trump was being targeted by “Russo-phobic hysteria” in the US but predicted “this will end, sooner or later", adding: "We are patient, we know how to wait and we will wait.” 

Additional reporting by agencies