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The Brazilian President: we can’t punish Julian Assange for ‘informing society’ in a ‘transparent’ way

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva spoke at the United Nations in New York on Tuesday about the “necessity” of preserving press freedom. He also said that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange should not be prosecuted for informing the public, FoxNews reported.

The president made the comments ahead of a multi-party delegation of Australian politicians meeting with U.S. officials, members of Congress and civil rights groups. The group will bring a letter signed by more than 60 MPs calling on the US to halt the prosecution of Assange, who is fighting extradition to the US, where he could be sentenced to 175 years in a US maximum security prison. Lula added:

“It is essential to preserve the freedom of the press. A journalist like Julian Assange cannot be punished for informing society in a transparent and legitimate way.”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese plans to meet with US President Joe Biden in late October. In recent months, Albanese has asked the US authorities to stop persecuting the Australian journalist.

Assange faces 17 charges of receiving, possessing and publishing classified information under the Espionage Act. He is also charged with conspiracy to commit computer intrusion. The charges stem from the 2010 publication by US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning in Wikileaks of materials detailing war crimes committed by the US government at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba, Iraq and Afghanistan. The materials also reveal cases of the CIA’s use of torture and rendition of suspects.

Wikileaks also published a “Collateral Murder” video showing the US military shooting Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists 13 years ago. Lula said on Tuesday:

“Our fight is against disinformation and cybercrime. Acts and platforms should not abolish the labor laws we fight so hard for.”

Assange has been in detention at London’s high-security Belmarsh prison since being expelled from the Ecuadorian embassy on 11 April 2019 for violating bail conditions. He has sought asylum at the embassy in London to avoid being sent to Sweden over allegations of raping two women, as Sweden has not given assurances it will protect him from extradition to the US.

In May, Lula denounced the lack of concerted efforts to free Assange, calling it 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.”

In May, Lula criticised the authorities of different states for the lack of a concerted effort to free Assange, calling it 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.” He claimed:

“It’s a crazy thing. 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.”

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