Lula meets Sunak, calls for him to free Julian Assange

Lula and Sunak
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak hosts Brazilian President Lula da Silva at No. 10 Downing Street. Brazil’s leader spoke to both Sunak and the press corps about the Assange case while in London: “The press, which defends freedom of the press, does nothing to free this citizen,” Lula lamented. Photo by Simon Walker — No. 10 Downing Street.

Brazilian President Lula da Silva calls
for freedom for Julian Assange

by the Common Dreams staff

Brazil’s President Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva has called for freedom for Julian Assange and denounced the lack of concerted efforts to free the journalist.

Lula spoke to a group of reporters in London Saturday while in town to attend the coronation of King Charles III.

Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has spent four years in Britain’s Belmarsh Prison while fighting extradition to the United States.

“It is an embarrassment that a journalist who denounced trickery by one state against another is arrested, condemned to die in jail and we do nothing to free him. It’s a crazy thing,” Lula told reporters. “We talk about freedom of expression; the guy is in prison because he denounced wrongdoing. And the press doesn’t do anything in defense of this journalist. I can’t understand it.”

“I think there must be a movement of world press in his defense. Not in regard to his person, but to defend the right to denounce,” Lula told the reporters. “The guy didn’t denounce anything vulgar. He denounced that a state was spying on others, and that became a crime against the journalist. The press, which defends freedom of the press, does nothing to free this citizen. It’s sad, but it’s true.”

Also, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday he too was frustrated over the continued detention of Julian Assange: “enough is enough.”

“I know it’s frustrating, I share the frustration,” Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. from London for the coronation of King Charles III.

“I can’t do more than make very clear what my position is, and the U.S. administration is certainly very aware of what the Australian government’s position is. There is nothing to be served by his ongoing incarceration.”

“Enough is enough, this needs to be brought to a conclusion, it needs to be worked through,” said Albanese.

Assange has battled for years to avoid being sent to the U.S., where the journalist faces 17 charges of espionage because of WikiLeaks’ publication of a trove of classified documents in 2010.

US prosecutors allege he published 700,000 secret classified documents which exposed the United States government and its wrongdoings in Iraq and Afghanistan. Wikileaks received the documents from Chelsea Manning.

Albanese said Australians cannot understand why the US would free the source who leaked the documents, Chelsea Manning, while Assange still faces life in prison.

President Joe Biden has been accused of hypocrisy for demanding the release of journalists around the world, while he actively seeks the extradition of Assange to face American espionage charges.

Assange faces a sentence of up to 175 years in a maximum security prison if extradited to the United States.


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