On Monday, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said he delivered a letter to President Biden last week where he pleaded for the US not to prosecute Julian Assange and renewed an offer to grant asylum to the WikiLeaks founder.
Lopez Obrador said he explained in the letter that Assange “did not cause anyone’s death, did not violate any human rights and that he exercised his freedom, and that arresting him would mean a permanent affront to freedom of expression.”
The Mexican leader said that he previously offered asylum to Assange in a letter to President Trump at the end of his term and again at the beginning of the Biden administration. Last month, Lopez Obrador called Assange “the best journalist of our time.”
Assange faces up to 175 years in prison for exposing US war crimes by publishing documents he received from whistleblower and former Army soldier Chelsea Manning. Lopez Obrador said earlier this month that if Assange is sentenced to life in prison, there should be a campaign to dismantle the statue of liberty.
“If they bring him to the US and sentence to the ultimate penalty, to death in prison, then we will have to initiate a campaign for dismantling the Statue of Liberty, presented by the French, because it will no longer be a symbol of liberty,” he said.
While Lopez Obrador is outspoken in his support for Assange, who is an Australian citizen, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is not. Albanese has rejected calls for him to demand that Washington drop its extradition request.
Assange is currently being held in London’s Belmarsh Prison. British Home Secretary Priti Patel has approved the extradition of Assange to the US, and the WikiLeaks founder’s legal team lodged an appeal to her ruling on July 1.
Assange is indicted on 17 counts of espionage and one count of conspiracy to commit a computer crime for his role in obtaining and publishing the leaks provided by Manning. But Assange used standard journalistic practices to obtain the information, something many human rights groups, journalist organizations, and UN officials have pointed out.