(TMU) — Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has forcefully expressed his wish that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange be released from prison in London, where he is facing conditions amounting to torture.
Since April, the 48-year old Assange has been held at the maximum-security HMP Belmarsh prison. The U.S. government is seeking the extradition of Assange to the United States on 18 charges, including allegations of conspiracy to hack into computers in the U.S. and violating the Espionage Act. Analysts say he would face a sentence of up to 175 years in prison or even the death penalty if found guilty of the charges.
Assange’s defenders claim that he is simply being sought due to his role in the release of scandalous information implicating Washington in a range of crimes, including serious war crimes and violations of international law.
Speaking to reporters, the popular head of state known by his initials “AMLO” expressed his solidarity with Assange.
Durante la mañanera, el presidente AMLO comentó que espera que sea perdonado y se le deje en libertad. Agregó que los 'secretos de estado' sobre acciones contrarias a la democracia que reveló la investigación de Assange son ciertas, pues "obedece a la realidad de ese entonces". pic.twitter.com/FaxlAwEWUr
— Plumas Atómicas (@plumasatomicas) January 3, 2020
“There are cables that were made public while we were in the opposition that talked about our struggle, and I can corroborate that they are true and accurate. What they revealed was the reality of that time: illegal relationships, illegitimate acts that violate our sovereignty, contrary to democracy and against freedom. This is what [was revealed].”
WikiLeaks helped shed light on a range of acts by the U.S. government in Mexico that clearly amount to illegal intervention in its southern neighbor’s internal affairs. The leaks revealed attempts by local figures to convince Washington to stop AMLO from coming to power during Mexico’s contested presidential election of 2006, humiliating U.S. assessments of Mexican government actions, and the revelation that high-ranking Mexican officials were offering U.S. intelligence agencies access to sensitive government information, among other scandals.
El cable #Wikileaks 06MEXICO820 reveló q Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas (líder del PRD), Vicente Fox (presidente), José Sidaoui (Banco de México) y Andrés Sánchez Gutiérrez (consejero del IFE) hicieron TODO para destruir a @lopezobrador_ y ayudar a @FelipeCalderon en 2006.
COMPLOT- FRAUDE pic.twitter.com/qsSv6giYJc
— Pablo José Hope (@oceloxochitl_) January 4, 2020
AMLO also called for Assange to be liberated so “he is no longer tortured.” He said:
“I don’t know whether he has said that his actions were confrontational to norms or to the political system, but what the cables demonstrated is the workings of the global system and its authoritarian nature.
These are like state secrets that have become known thanks to this investigation, thanks to these cables, and I hope that this is taken into consideration and he is freed and he is no longer tortured.”
On November 4, UN Special Rapporteur on Torture Nils Melzer accused the U.K. government of showing “outright contempt for Mr. Assange’s rights and integrity.” In May, Melzer described Assange as exhibiting “all symptoms typical for prolonged exposure to psychological torture.”
The Mexican head of state stressed his belief that the release of Assange would be an act consistent with justice. He said:
“It would be a very just cause, in favor of human rights, an act of humility by the authorities to resolve the freedom of this journalist and researcher who has managed to extract these cables that reveal the information about what has happened between governments.
Not everything in those cables was legal. Most of the things that emerged violated our sovereignty, freedoms, and I insist, democracy.
One cannot turn one’s back on human suffering. One cannot apply the politics of the ostrich, of putting one’s head in the sand. One has to speak out.”
On the WikiLeaks defense fund website, Assange’s U.S. attorney Barry Pollack responded:
“President Obrador today expressed the grave concerns that everyone who values a free press and open democracy should share.
The United States has always set an example for the world with its First Amendment values. The unprecedented indictment by the United States of a publisher for Espionage is contrary to those principles.”
And on Saturday, Julian’s mother Christine Assange posted a tweet expressing thanks to the Mexican leader for demanding the release of her son.
This grieving mother thanks you Sir…
President of Mexico calls for the release of my son Julian…
"He should not continue to be tortured"
— ?Christine Assange (@MrsC_Assange) January 4, 2020
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