Lula says Julian Assange’s arrest is a “shame”
On a visit to the United Kingdom, the president criticized the press for not “doing anything” to free the journalist, imprisoned since 2019
President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT) spoke again this Saturday (May 6, 2023) about the case of Australian journalist Julian Assange, imprisoned in London since 2019. “I think it’s a shame” said the Chief Executive to journalists, after the coronation ceremony of King Charles 3rd, in the United Kingdom.
“I will even speak in front of journalists, because this applies to you and applies to me. It is a shame that a journalist who denounced the frauds of one State against the other is arrested, condemned to die in jail and we do nothing to free him”declared Lula.
The president said he forgot to mention the issue in his meeting with the British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, but stated that, as soon as he returns to Brazil, he will call Sunak to discuss the arrest of Assange.
According to the chief executive, the journalist did not denounce anything. “vulgar”. The petista criticized the press for not having made a movement to free Assange.
This is not the first time Lula mentions the case. On June 17, 2022, the then presidential candidate defended the founder of Wikileaks, whose extradition from the United Kingdom to the United States was closer after the British government approved the process.
“We who are here talking about democracy need to ask what crime did Assange commit”, declared Lula at the time. According to the petista, the crime was “tell the truth”.
WHO IS JULIAN ASSANGE
Julian Assange, 51, founded the site WikiLeaks in 2006. Starting in 2010, Australian began publishing confidential information about the United States. The US government estimates that there were 700,000 documents.
The material, published in WikiLeaks and other vehicles, such as Guardian e New York Times, contained data on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and other diplomatic and military operations information. It also reported information on the air attack on Baghdad in July 2007. Part of the documents were about alleged abuses committed by the US Armed Forces.
Julian Assange was arrested in London in 2019 after spending 7 years sheltered in the Ecuadorian embassy. He was trying to avoid being arrested and extradited to Sweden, where he was accused of 2 rape cases. The inquiry was later dropped.
The leaks exposed human rights abuses and spying by leaders of other countries. If tried in the country, he could be sentenced to up to 175 years in prison. Assange remains in London’s Belmarsh Prison to this day.
O Poder360 separated the main events about the case of the founder of WikiLeaks. Here is the timeline:
- 2006: Assange funda o WikiLeaks and begins publishing classified information and news leaks from anonymous sources;
- August 2010: a Swedish prosecutor issues an arrest warrant after two Swedish women accuse Assange of rape and sexual abuse in separate allegations;
- November 2010: WikiLeaks start disclosing diplomatic telegramsacquired from an anonymous source, prompting the US Department of Justice to open an investigation. The source is later discovered to be Chelsea Manning. Sweden also issues an international arrest warrant for Assange;
- December 2010: Assange surrenders to British police. The courts hold that he must post bail;
- May 2012: the British Supreme Court rules in favor of Assange’s return to Sweden, but his lawyers ask for a delay;
- August 2012: Assange is granted asylum at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, which cites concerns about human rights abuses if he is extradited to Sweden. He entered the embassy for the 1st time in June 2012;
- August 2015: Swedish prosecutors drop sexual abuse charges against Assange after they ran out of time to question him, but he still faces a rape charge;
- February 2016: the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention concludes that Assange was “arbitrarily detained“ by Sweden and the United Kingdom since December 2010 and calls on both governments to end their “deprivation of liberty”;
- October 2016: Ecuador’s government says it has cut off Assange’s internet over the release of hacked emails WikiLeaks during the 2016 election — later revealed to be part of Russian government interference on behalf of then-candidate Donald Trump. Assange announces in December that his internet connection has been restored;
- April 2017: former CIA director Mike Pompeo describes the WikiLeaksas a “non-state hostile intelligence service” that it constitutes a threat to US national security;
- May 2017: Swedish prosecutors end their 7-year investigation into rape allegation against Assange;
- December 2017: Ecuador grants Assange citizenship in a failed attempt to give him diplomatic immunity;
- February 2018: British judge Emma Arbuthnot says the country will not drop the charges against Assange after he evaded bail in 2012 by seeking asylum at the Ecuadorian embassy;
- April 2019: a week before Assange was arrested, the Ecuadorian president says that Assange “violated the agreement we made with him and his lawyer many times”. The information is from Washington Post;
- April 11, 2019: Assange is arrested on a US extradition warrant after Ecuador withdraws its asylum offer. He is found guilty of failing to pay bail determined by British Justice;
- May 1, 2019: Assange was condemned almost 1 year in prison in the UK;
- May 23, 2019: US charges Assange under the Espionage Act. He was indicted on 18 counts. The case raises questions about the First Amendment, which guarantees free speech in the US;
- June 11, 2019: USA enter with an extradition request against Assange. Application was rejected in January 2021 at risk of Assange committing suicide;
- October 28, 2021: USA try again obtain extradition of Julian Assange. The US government denied that the Assange’s mental health be fragile to the point where he can’t withstand the US court system;
- April 20, 2022: british justice issue Assange’s extradition order to the US. The measure still needs the approval of the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patell;
- June 17, 2022: United Kingdom approves journalist’s extradition to the United States. It can be appealed, but if the determination is upheld, Assange must be sent within 28 days.