Brazilian President Lula Calls For The Release Of Julian Assange

Julian Assange

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has criticized the UK for its treatment of Julian Assange. He said the WikiLeaks founder has been imprisoned for his professional activities as a journalist and called on the government to release him.

“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 is crazy thing,” Lula told journalists after attending the coronation of King Charles III in London on Saturday.

He also told reporters that Assange’s is a case of freedom of expression, adding that the Australian national is behind bars merely “because he denounced wrongdoing.” Lula also lambasted the media for failing to back their colleague.

Australian PM

Media reports said:

While speaking to Australia’s ABC broadcaster from London on Thursday, the country’s prime minister, Anthony Albanese, argued that “there is nothing to be served’ by keeping Assange behind bars.

“This needs to be brought to a conclusion,” he stated, adding that Canberra is “working through diplomatic channels, we are making very clear what our position is on Mr. Assange’s case.”

Albanese, who has previously denounced Assange’s imprisonment on several occasions, acknowledged that the process is “frustrating.”

Assange’s Letter To The UK King

Another media report said:

On Friday, the WikiLeaks founder, who has been languishing in London’s Belmarsh high security prison since 2019, wrote a letter to King Charles III. Among other things, he invited the monarch to visit the facility.

“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,” the journalist wrote.

Assange was arrested by British authorities after Ecuador revoked his asylum status and allowed the UK police to remove him from the country’s embassy in London. The WikiLeaks founder had been sheltering in the diplomatic mission’s premises since 2012.

On the day of his arrest, the U.S. Department of Justice served Assange with 17 charges under the Espionage Act, which could potentially put him behind bars for 175 years. His defense team is currently fighting a US extradition request.

The charges stem from his publication of classified material obtained by whistleblowers, including classified documents alleging U.S. war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although Assange did not personally hack these materials, he was still charged for his role in publishing them.

Biden Rival Pledges To Pardon Assange

A media report said:

U.S. presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. has vowed to pardon “brave truth-tellers” including WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who is currently being held in a British high security prison as he fights extradition to America.

The U.S. “actively persecutes journalists and whistleblowers” instead of championing free speech, Democratic contender Kennedy tweeted on Tuesday.

The Australian-born Assange is effectively facing a lifetime sentence for his role in the leaks by US military whistleblower Chelsea Manning. Assange was arrested in Britain in 2019 after Ecuador revoked his political asylum, allowing police to enter its embassy in London, where he had been holed up for seven years.

Assange was then sent to Belmarsh prison, a facility ordinarily used to house some of the most dangerous criminals in the UK.

Kennedy, who is seeking the Democratic Party’s nomination for the 2024 presidential election, said he would pardon both Assange and Manning. The latter spent seven years in US custody after leaking troves of classified materials to WikiLeaks in 2010, but had her sentence commuted by then-President Barack Obama in 2017.

The U.S. government has accused Assange of encouraging and facilitating Manning and is aiming to extradite him for trial. Assange’s defenders have argued that his trial would set a dangerous precedent, and that his actions were no different from other publishers of classified documents who sought to protect their sources.

Kennedy named a number of “other brave truth-tellers” who deserve similar exoneration, including Edward Snowden, who now resides in Russia. Instead of prosecuting them, the presidential hopeful pledged he would “investigate the corruption and crimes exposed.”

Kennedy is among three people to have formally announced their bids for the Democratic nomination. While incumbent President Joe Biden is the frontrunner, Kennedy is polling at 19%, with author Marianne Williamson trailing at 9%, according to a recent Fox News survey.

The Biden administration has said it has no plans to drop the charges against Assange, despite calls by media freedom advocates. Critics have accused Washington of hypocrisy, citing its habit of lecturing other nations over press freedoms.

Democrats Urge Biden To Drop Assange Charges

Several Democrats in the U.S. House have penned a letter calling for the immediate release of WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, urging the Department of Justice to drop its charges against the publisher and halt extradition proceedings aiming to bring him to the US to face prosecution under the World War I-era Espionage Act.

The group of progressive lawmakers, known as ‘the Squad’, addressed their letter to Attorney General Merrick Garland on Tuesday to mark the fourth anniversary since Assange’s 2019 arrest, saying the charges against him represent a serious threat to the free press.

“We write you today to call on you to uphold the First Amendment’s protections for the freedom of the press by dropping the criminal charges against Australian publisher Julian Assange and withdrawing the American extradition request currently pending with the British government,” the lawmakers said.

They went on to cite warnings from a long line of human rights, civil liberties, and press freedoms groups – among them the ACLU, Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Defending Rights and Dissent, and Human Rights Watch – which have argued Assange’s case poses “a grave and unprecedented threat to everyday, constitutionally protected journalistic activity.”

Assange was arrested by the British authorities in 2019 after losing political asylum status at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he was holed up for more than seven years for fear of prosecution by the US due to WikiLeaks’ publication of large amounts of classified material. Under then-President Donald Trump, the U.S. Department of Justice unsealed a multi-count indictment against Assange on April 11, 2019 – the same day of his arrest – slapping him with 17 charges under the Espionage Act, which can potentially carry the death penalty.

He has been held at the UK’s maximum-security Belmarsh Prison in the years since, as Washington presses an extradition request to bring Assange to the U.S. to face his charges. The publisher’s legal team has appealed a prior ruling in favor of extradition on the grounds of Assange’s declining health, a process which continues to play out in the British courts.

The Democratic lawmakers argued that Assange’s prosecution would “greatly diminishes America’s credibility” as a defender of human rights around the globe and set a dangerous legal precedent “whereby journalists or publishers can be prosecuted.”

“In the future the New York Times or Washington Post could be prosecuted when they publish important stories based on classified information. Or, just as dangerous for democracy, they may refrain from publishing such stories for fear of prosecution,” they continued.

Assange’s charges stem from the 2010 publication of a massive trove of classified documents obtained by US army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning, including material suggesting U.S. forces committed war crimes in Iraq and elsewhere. Manning was charged and sentenced to 35 years in prison, but was later released after President Barack Obama commuted Manning’s sentence.

CIA’s Surveillance Methods On Assange Revealed

The CIA used private Spanish security company UC Global to secretly install microphones inside the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to monitor WikiLeaks co-founder Julian Assange, El Pais reported recently, citing the company’s internal communications.

UC Global was hired to provide security for the embassy. Assange, who was granted asylum by Ecuador at the time, resided in the diplomatic compound from 2012 to 2019, before he was forcibly removed by British police. The Spanish company’s alleged links to U.S. intelligence agencies were first reported by El Pais in 2019.

According to the newspaper, UC Global founder and head David Morales first came into contact with the CIA in 2017. Around that time, Morales informed his employees that the company would have to provide a new American client named ‘X’ with remote access to the server that collected the data from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which was referred to as the ‘Hotel’.

“Regarding the Hotel work, I would like to offer our information collection and analysis capability to the American client,” Morales wrote in a September 2017 email. “We must try to make it attractive and easy to interpret.”

The information shared reportedly included profiles of Assange’s visitors, including lawyers and diplomats, as well as cell phone data. Morales was quoted as saying in a chat message that “the people in control are our friends in the USA.”

One of microphones that Morales’ team secretly planted inside the embassy was hidden in the base of a fire extinguisher in order to listen in despite Assange’s habit of using a white noise machine to prevent surveillance, El Pais said. Stickers were attached to window corners to avoid vibrations and allow sound to be recorded through laser microphones. “I know it is of the utmost interest and that the USA wants to do it,” Morales reportedly wrote to his employees.

According to El Pais, UC Global’s work helped Washington foil a plan to sneak Assange out of the embassy in December 2017. Lenin Moreno, Ecuador’s president at the time, allegedly wanted to grant the WikiLeaks co-founder Ecuadorian citizenship and get him out of Britain in a diplomatic car.

Morales’ team reportedly recorded a conversation between Assange and Ecuadorian officials and then quickly sent it to the U.S. Washington responded by issuing an arrest warrant for Assange to Britain, which apparently prompted organizers to abort the plan.

In 2019, the Spanish authorities launched an investigation into Morales’ company and briefly detained him. He has since been released on bail.

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