Nigel Farage has said he has “no connections to Russia” following reports that he is a “person of interest” to FBI investigators examining possible collusion between the Kremlin and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.
The former Ukip leader and serving MEP described a report from the Guardian as “hysterical”, saying it was a result of the “liberal elite” being unable to accept Brexit and Mr Trump becoming US president.
He added it is “extremely doubtful” he could be a person of interest as he has never been to Russia, had no business dealings with Russia while a City trader, and has appeared around three times on Kremlin-backed broadcaster Russia Today (RT) in the last 18 months.
Mr Farage did confirm he met WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “with a view to conducting an interview”.
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, 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 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 Ukip politician caused waves in the UK after beating Prime Minister Theresa May to meet Mr Trump in person shortly after his election victory.
The president later suggested that Mr Farage should become British ambassador to the US.
In March, Buzzfeed published a photograph of Mr Farage leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London where Mr Assange has been living since he claimed asylum.
The website reported that Mr Farage declined to comment on the meeting, which was also 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.”
Earlier this month Mr Farage ended an interview with German newspaper Zeit in which he faced questions over his links with Russia – including whether his campaign to leave the EU during last year’s referendum received Russian money – and his visit to Mr Assange.
He denied Russian money was given, saying at the time: “I never received a penny from Russia. I wouldn’t have taken it, even if it had been offered.”
An FBI spokesman said: “We have no comment.”