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Brazil's Lula calls for collective efforts to free WikiLeaks founder Assange

Brazilian President Lula da Silva. (Photo by Ricardo Stuckert)

Brazilian president Lula da Silva has denounced the lack of collective efforts to release the WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and has called for the immediate release of the detained journalist, during his visit to London to attend the coronation ceremony of King Charles III.

“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,” he added.

He also criticized the press for not taking any action in favor of Assange and called on the global media to highlight his struggle as he had not "denounced anything vulgar" but had exposed state surveillance.

Criticizing the UK government for the imprisonment of Assange, he called the move as "shameful".

Upon arriving in Brazil, Lula stated that he will call UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to discuss the matter.

“It was a subject I forgot to talk to him about,” he said.

Assange recently sent a letter in a satirical tone to King Charles on the special occasion of his coronation ceremony and requested him to visit the UK prison where he has been imprisoned for more than four years.

“As a political prisoner, held at your Majesty’s pleasure on behalf of an embarrassed foreign sovereign, I am honored to reside within the walls of this world-class institution,” Assange wrote in the letter.

“On the coronation of my liege, I thought it only fitting to extend a heartfelt invitation to you to commemorate this momentous occasion by visiting your very own kingdom within a kingdom: his majesty’s prison Belmarsh,” he added.

The Australian national and the WikiLeaks founder was arrested in England in 2019 after Ecuador revoked his diplomatic asylum at the country's embassy in London, where he spent seven years

Over 13 years have passed ever since Assange’s WikiLeaks released a series of more than 700,000 secret classified documents in 2010 which exposed the United States government and its wrongdoings in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Assange is currently locked up in the Belmarsh Prison, located in southeast London.

In January, US President Joe Biden was accused of hypocrisy as he demanded the release of journalists around the world, while he seeks the extradition of Assange to face American espionage charges.

Assange has been accused by the US court of 18 crimes and if found guilty, he would face up to 175 years in prison.

Earlier on June 17, 2022, the then UK home secretary, Priti Patel approved Assange’s extradition to the US.

Being one of the few prominent voices that has been battling for the release of the whistleblower, Lula has frequently and openly has criticized the US government and its decisions.

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