Mexico on Monday offered political asylum to Julian Assange to further protect him from extradition to the US.
President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said it was his nation’s “responsibility” to offer protection after the US announced it was appealing a UK court decision not to extradite the WikiLeaks founder, who faces up to 175 years in prison for espionage charges.
“Assange is a journalist and deserves a chance. I am in favor of pardoning him,” Lopez Obrador said. “We’ll give him protection.”
Assange remains in custody until at least Wednesday, when his lawyers plan to fight for his release at a bail hearing.
“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,” Lopez Obrador told reporters, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP).
US prosecutors have indicted Assange on 17 espionage charges and one charge of computer misuse over WikiLeaks’ publication of leaked military and diplomatic documents a decade ago.