A Italy-based businessman and political aide working with Steve Bannon to develop an alt-right compound near Rome leapt to his partner’s defense on Thursday. Benjamin Harnwell, director of the conservative Catholic organization Dignitatis Humanae, claimed he had a “metaphysical certainty of 100%” that Bannon was innocent after the former Trump strategist was charged with siphoning off money from a $25 million border wall fundraiser. “The forces of darkness, against whom Steve Bannon has been the most effective, uncompromising and valiant champion on the world stage, will stop at nothing to destroy anyone who dares to stand up to them,” Harnwell, who is also an aide to a conservative British member of the European Parliament, told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “The surprise isn’t that Steve has been arrested today on spurious fraud charges. The surprise is that it took them so long to strike.”
Harnwell claimed Bannon was being prosecuted so his money and energy would be diverted from “fighting the systemic corrupt injustices of the global elites.” (Bannon was arrested off the coast of Connecticut, aboard a mega-yacht owned by a fugitive Chinese billionaire.) “The object is to eliminate him from the debate. Character assassination to destroy his credibility,” Harnwell said. The Daily Beast first reported on Bannon’s plan to develop the compound in an 800-year-old monastery outside Rome.