Nigel Farage ‘handed data to Julian Assange during a secret meeting at the embassy where WikiLeaks boss is hiding.’
Private investigator tells House panel Farage gave thumb drive to Assange, who officials view as a conduit for the Russian government.
The former Ukip boss allegedly held a series of secret meetings with the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he's been hiding for more than five years.
U.S. congressmen were told Mr Farage handed Mr Assange a "thumb drive" containing unknown material.
The claim came from Glenn Simpson, head of the company which compiled a controversial dossier claiming Russia held obscene videos of Donald Trump with prostitutes.
He told the House Intelligence Committee WikiLeaks was middleman in a "somewhat unacknowledged relationship" between the Trump team and the "Ukip people".
Mr Simpson, boss of the firm Fusion GPS, said that Mr Farage became "someone that we were very interested in" after the EU referendum vote in June 2016.
Simpson told the committee – which is privy to classified US intelligence – that it would be possible to confirm how often Farage had visited Assange through a routine inquiry.
His remarks were made in a private interview by the committee, which peppered Simpson with questions about Russian money laundering and the possibility that Donald Trump could be compromised.
A spokesman for Farage told the Guardian last year that Farage had only met with Assange in March 2017 and not on any other occasion.
The Trump administration has vigorously denied all claims that it may have colluded with Russian agents.
Assange made no public comment, but the WikiLeaks Twitter account said: “The question was about what kind of data. Game of Thrones or emails? 2016 or 2017? Simpson answers with a diversion.”
Assange has denied working as an agent of Russia and Farage has ridiculed suggestions that the Kremlin influenced either the US election or Britain’s 2016 vote to exit the European Union.
Farage’s relationship with Assange is of key interest because US intelligence and law enforcement officials see the WikiLeaks founder as a conduit for the Russian government.
Assange’s move to publish emails that were hacked from the Democratic party in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election is seen as part of the Kremlin’s campaign to try to influence the outcome of the election in Trump’s favour. Multiple US inquiries are now examining whether the Trump campaign or other officials had a hand in the Kremlin’s alleged interference.
An ongoing criminal investigation into the matter has already resulted in four indictments, including of three former campaign officials.