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Donald Trump ally Paul Manafort calls for leaks probe after CNN wiretap story

Donald Trump's ex-campaign head has called for an investigation into leaks after a CNN report that he was the target of an FBI wiretapping probe. Paul Manafort resigned from Trump's campaign amid reports of Moscow ties.

In a statement issued on Tuesday the former campaign manager for US President Donald Trump demanded an immediate probe into why he was reportedly wiretapped by federal authorities during a national security probe by the FBI, adding that he believed the surveillance was likely politically motivated.

Manafort's statement, issued by his spokesman, Jason Maloni, came after US broadcaster CNN reported that secret court orders had approved his surveillance under the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows Americans to be targeted if they are suspected of acting as an agent of a foreign country.

Read more: Facebook, Russia and the US elections - what you need to know

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Trump campaign manager resigns

Manafort was appointed as Trump's campaign manager in June 2016, but was forced to resign just two months later following reports of his business relationship with former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, a close Kremlin ally.

"If true, it is a felony to reveal the existence of a FISA warrant, regardless of the fact that no charges ever emerged," the statement said. "The US Department of Justice's Inspector General should immediately conduct an investigation into these leaks and to examine the motivations behind a previous administration's effort to surveil a political opponent.

"Mr. Manafort requests that the Department of Justice release any intercepts involving him and any non-Americans so interested parties can come to the same conclusion as the DOJ — there is nothing there."

According to CNN, the court initially authorized that Manafort be surveilled in 2014 but the order lapsed in 2016 for lack of evidence. However, surveillance resumed later that year and continued beyond November's presidential election into 2017, as part of the FBI's investigation into alleged ties between the Trump campaign team and Russian operatives.

Manafort is being investigated as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's  probe into alleged Russian interference in last year's presidential election.

Read more: What you need to know about Mueller's investigation into the Trump campaign

According to CNN, investigators' interest in Manafort deepened after they intercepted communications between him and Russian operatives. FISA surveillance on Manafort continued into 2017 when he was known to have held talks with Trump, although it was unclear whether the president had been picked up on the wiretaps, CNN said.

CNN's revelations coincided with a New York Times report on Monday that prosecutors planned to indict Manafort after federal agents raided the former Trump campaign chief's home in July.

dm/cmk (Reuters, AFP)

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