Mexican President Ready to Provide Political Asylum to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange

Lorenz Duchamps
By Lorenz Duchamps
January 4, 2021Americas
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Mexican President Ready to Provide Political Asylum to Wikileaks’ Julian Assange
Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador speaks during a press conference at the National Palace, in Mexico City, on May 31, 2019. (Ginnette Riquelme/AP)

Officials in Mexico are ready to provide political asylum to Wikileaks’ co-founder Julian Assange after a British court ruled the Australian publisher won’t be extradited to the United States.

“I’m going to ask the foreign minister to carry out the relevant procedures to request that the UK government releases Mr. Assange and that Mexico offers him political asylum,” President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said during a press briefing on Monday.

Assange currently remains in the United Kingdom and was indicted by U.S. prosecutors on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse related to the 2010 WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents in Afghanistan and Iraq.

During his hearing on Monday, British District Judge Vanessa Baraitser rejected the U.S. extradition request out of concerns Assange might commit suicide.

The United States responded Monday they are planning to appeal Baraitser’s decision to reject their request.

During Monday’s conference, López Obrador said he thinks Assange “deserves a chance,” adding that he is “in favor of pardoning him” and the country is ready to “give him protection.”

Julian Assange arrested
WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen in a police van, after he was arrested by British police, in London, Britain on April 11, 2019. (Henry Nicholls/Reuters)

The Mexican president also urged last year that Britain should release Assange, calling his detention “torture” and saying WikiLeaks documents had exposed the world’s “authoritarian” workings.

The 49-year-old publisher has spent most of the last decade either in prison or self-imposed confinement, following his release of thousands of secret classified files and diplomatic cables that caused embarrassment to many governments around the world.

Lopez Obrador, who took office in December 2018, has long railed against ruling elites and rhetorically has sought to break with establishment politics and economics.

Assange wouldn’t be the first high profile case who has been offered political asylum by the Latin-American country. Former Bolivian President Evo Morales was also granted asylum after election fraud protests resulted in civil unrest last year.

Bolivia's President Evo Morales
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales Ayma addresses the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York on Sept. 19, 2017. (Jewek Samad/AFP via Getty Images)

Morales stepped down from his post on Nov. 10 in an undisclosed location amid mass protests and a loss of support from the police and military. He was being criticized for manipulating Bolivia’s laws and its 2009 Constitution so that he could run for president a fourth time.

Mexico’s Foreign Secretary Marcelo Ebrard granted Morales’ asylum request at a press conference on Nov. 11.

Epoch Times reporter Katabella Roberts and Reuters contributed to this report.

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