Julian Assange Committed No Serious Crime, Mexican President Tells Biden

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said Monday he had interceded with US President Joe Biden on behalf of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, insisting that he had committed no serious crime. Lopez Obrador renewed an offer of asylum for Assange, who is fighting extradition by Britain to the United States, where he could face decades in jail for allegedly violating the US Espionage Act. Mexico’s leftist leader delivered a letter to Biden when he visited Washington last week “explaining that Assange did not commit any serious crime,” he told reporters.

“He did not cause the death of anyone, did not violate any human right and exercised his freedom,” Lopez Obrador said.

Imprisoning the 51-year-old Australian publisher would amount to an “affront to freedom of expression,” he said, adding that he had yet to receive a response from Biden.

Assange could face up to 175 years in jail if found guilty of violating the US Espionage Act by publishing military and diplomatic files in 2010 related to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.

The British government last month approved his extradition to the US, prompting an appeal.

Supporters portray Assange as a martyr to press freedom after he was taken into British custody and put in a high-security prison having spent seven years at Ecuador’s embassy in London.

Last week, a former CIA programmer was found guilty in New York federal court of the 2017 leak of the US spy agency’s most valuable hacking tools to WikiLeaks, two years after his initial prosecution ended in mistrial.

Joshua Schulte, 33, worked for the CIA’s elite hacking unit when he quietly took the “Vault 7” tools it uses to break into target computer and technology systems and, after quitting his job, sent them to the anti-secrecy group.

Vault 7 was a collection of malware, viruses, Trojans, and “zero day” exploits that, once leaked out, were available for use by foreign intelligence groups, hackers and cyber extortionists around the world.

The leak, which stunned the CIA in March 2017, was called one of the most damaging losses of classified material ever experienced by the Central Intelligence Agency.

It spurred the government to consider tough action against WikiLeaks, which then-CIA director Mike Pompeo called a “hostile intelligence service.”

The US government then moved to indict WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange on espionage charges. Assange is currently in Britain fighting extradition to the United States.

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