Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador claims he will press the US to drop all charges against Julian Assange
Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador says the symbol of America’s freedom could lose its meaning if Washington refuses to drop charges against Wikileaks co-founder Julian Assange, who faces the prospect of 175 years in prison.
“They take him to the United States, and he gets the maximum sentence and is to die in jail. We need to start a campaign for the destruction of the Statue of Liberty,” Lopez Obrador said at a news conference on Monday. For Washington to convict Assange would confirm that the world-famous monument in New York Harbor “Freedom is no longer an emblem,” he continued.
He made these remarks in reaction to the criticisms that were published this weekend by Washington Post and NGO Reporters Without Borders, criticizing the Mexican government over its failures of protecting journalists. The reporters’ advocacy group has called on the Mexican government to “overhaul mechanisms for protecting media personnel,” insisting the majority of the 12 journalists who have been killed so far this year in Mexico were murdered because of their work.
However, the president, who is widely known by his initials AMLO, dismissed the report as “A campaign of slander against Mexico’s government.”
The Mexican leader skewered what he framed as hypocrisy by the media organizations that eagerly published information on US war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq obtained and released by Wikileaks before turning against the organization’s founder.
“Various media outlets participated in the release of this information [in its publication]. Because they believed it would contribute to the defence of human rights and freedom of expression, they agreed to make all information public.,” he said.
Lopez Obrador told reporters that he was open to discussing the possibility of Assange’s innocence during the next meeting between Joe Biden and him. He was invited to speak with the US president after he declined an invitation to Biden’s Summit of the Americas, refusing to attend in protest of the event’s exclusion of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
The Wikileaks publisher’s lawyers filed two new appeals last week to contest his extradition to the US. The 18 counts against him include conspiracy to obtain and disclose classified material, and Espionage Act violations. These charges stem from the receipt of top-secret military documents by Bradley Manning (now Chelsea) Manning. That’s despite one of the key witnesses in the case against Assange admitting that he fabricated important parts of his testimony against the Wikileaks co-founder.
Julian Assange appeals extradition to US – WSJ
Assange was effectively detained since 2012 when Assange sought asylum in Ecuador’s embassy in London. He wanted to avoid expulsion to Sweden for allegedly sexually assaulting another woman. Quito removed his asylum, and in 2019 the British police took him to Belmarsh maximum security prison. His mental and health state has been rapidly declining since then.
Lopez Obrador is a frequent spokesman for Assange’s rights, but he has yet to make an offer.
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