Mexico’s President AMLO demands freedom for Julian Assange, ‘prisoner of conscience’ and ‘best journalist of our time’

By  Benjamin Norton

Mexico’s left-wing President Andrés Manuel López Obrador reiterated his call for the freedom of WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange, whom he called a “prisoner of conscience” and the “best journalist of our time, in the world.”

In a fiery speech condemning the US government’s hypocrisy in its persecution of Assange, López Obrador asked, “Are we going to take the Statue of Liberty out of New York? Are we going to keep talking about democracy? Are we going to keep talking about the protection of human rights, of the freedom of expression?”

López Obrador, who is known popularly by the acronym AMLO, made these comments in a press conference on the morning of June 21.

AMLO called the imprisonment of Assange a “shame for the world.” He insisted, “The United Nations should take a stance” on behalf of Assange, along with “all organizations that defend human rights. There cannot be silence.”

“Mexico opens the doors to Assange,” the president declared, repeating his promise to give asylum to the imprisoned Australian journalist.

AMLO recalled that Assange “gathered cables, reports, from the embassies of the United States, in which they talked about acts of interventionism, and of crimes committed, of flagrant violations of human rights. Not only texts, but also images.”

At the press conference, AMLO played a clip of the scandalous 2007 video published by WikiLeaks, known as “collateral murder,” in which the US military can be seen killing civilians in Iraq, including a Reuters journalist.

“They are journalists, those who were targets,” López Obrador said, pointing to the screen. “This is what led to the persecution… This is why he is [in prison].”

The Mexican president said he is going to pressure US leader Joe Biden to free Assange. Assange is an Australian national. The US government has no legal jurisdiction over him.

Yet Washington has sought to extradite Assange over his journalistic work, threatening him with up to 175 years in prison.

Even mainstream NGOs like Amnesty International, which are deeply biased on behalf of Western governments, have called for the US government to drop its politically motivated charges against Assange, describing the case as “a full-scale assault on the right to freedom of expression.”

Unlike the Mexican president, however, Amnesty International has refused to designate Assange a prisoner of conscience. AMLO has repeatedly called for the WikiLeaks journalist to be freed. In January 2021, López Obrador offered Assange asylum in Mexico.

In the final weeks of the Donald Trump administration, AMLO wrote his US counterpart a letter, urging him to free Assange.

The US president ignored AMLO’s letter. Instead of freeing Assange, who exposed US war crimes in Iraq, Trump pardoned convicted war criminals from the mercenary firm Blackwater, who massacred civilians in Iraq.

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