Mexico City, Jan 4 (EFE).- Attorneys representing Julian Assange are in touch with Mexico about the Aztec nation’s offer of asylum for the WikiLeaks founder as he battles extradition to the United States on espionage charges, the Mexican foreign secretary said Tuesday.
“Yes, we have communication with them,” Marcelo Ebrard said in response to a reporter’s question during President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s morning news conference at the Palacio Nacional.
The Australian publisher’s legal team are aware of Mexico’s asylum offer, but “that option” is not feasible at this stage of the judicial process in the United Kingdom, Ebrard said.
Assange remains behind bars in London’s Belmarsh Prison pending appeal of a Dec. 10 decision by the British High Court overturning an earlier court ruling against the US extradition bid.
If found guilty on each of the 18 counts in the US indictment, Assange, 50, could be sentenced to as much as 180 years in prison.
The charges arose from WikiLeaks’ publication of secret materials provided in 2009-2010 by then-US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning.
Besides a video and military reports pertaining to US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Manning supplied WikiLeaks with a trove of State Department cables offering a window into Washington’s relations with a wide range of countries.
Assange sought refuge at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London in June 2012 after losing a long battle in the British courts to avoid extradition to Sweden to face accusations of sexual misconduct.
Quito eventually granted Assange Ecuadorian citizenship, but a change of government in the South American nation resulted on April 11, 2019, in his expulsion from the mission.
Hours after Ebrard addressed the issue at the press conference, the Mexican government released the text of a letter Lopez Obrador sent in December 2020 urging then-US President Donald Trump to pardon Assange.
“Allow me to appeal to your humanism, to the cordiality and the respect that has characterized the relationship between us and your attitude of friendship for Mexico,” the Mexican leader wrote in the missive dated Dec. 23, 2020.
If Trump were to pardon Assange and allow him to take up the offer of asylum in Mexico, the Mexican government “would ensure that that situation does not lead to any threat or harm to the interests of the United States,” Lopez Obrador said.
The Mexican president discussed the case during Monday’s news briefing.
“Assange is ill and it would be a demonstration of solidarity, of brotherhood, to allow him to receive asylum in the country,” Lopez Obrador said.
British authorities disclosed recently that Assange suffered a mini-stroke in October. EFE