Lula voices solidarity with Assange

Brazil's President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on Thursday expressed "solidarity" with jailed WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, criticising the Australian activist's arrest as a blow against "freedom of expression."

At a public event in the Brazilian capital, Lula blasted Assange's arrest and expressed "solidarity with exposing documents" which WikiLeaks has claimed as its mandate.

Assange has "exposed a diplomacy that had appeared unreachable," said Lula, who criticised of a failure of other governments to challenge Assange's detention.

"They have arrested him and I don't hear so much as a single protest for freedom of expression," he said.

The United States has condemned the whistle-blower website's release of hundreds of secret documents, part of a trove of 250,000 US diplomatic cables the site plans to release in stages.

WikiLeaks has angered governments around the world by releasing thousands of US diplomatic cables detailing everything from China's view of North Korea to unflattering descriptions of world leaders.

Assange, a 39-year-old Australian, handed himself into police on Tuesday and remains behind bars in a London prison.

He has a December 14 hearing on possible extradition to Sweden,  where he is wanted for questioning over rape and sexual assault allegations.

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