Mexico president will ask Biden to look into WikiLeaks' Assange case


FILE PHOTO: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is seen in a police van, after he was arrested by British police, in London, Britain April 11, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday he will ask U.S. President Joe Biden to address the case of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying Mexico would open its doors to him if he were released.

British Home Secretary Priti Patel on Friday approved the WikiLeaks founder's extradition to the United States to face criminal charges. Assange's wife vowed to fight using every possible legal avenue.

"I'm going to ask President Biden to address this issue ... humanism must prevail," Lopez Obrador said at a regular news conference. Mexico could "open its doors to Assange" if he were released, he added.

The Mexican President is set to meet his U.S. counterpart in July after skipping the recent U.S.-hosted Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles to protest the White House's exclusion of the governments of Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua from the event.

Assange is wanted by U.S. authorities on 18 counts, including a spying charge, relating to WikiLeaks' release of vast troves of confidential U.S. military records and diplomatic cables which Washington said had put lives in danger.

His supporters say he is an anti-establishment hero who has been victimized because he exposed U.S. wrongdoing in conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, and that his prosecution is a politically motivated assault on journalism and free speech.

"He is the best journalist of our time in the world and has been very unfairly treated, worse than a criminal. This is an embarrassment to the world," Lopez Obrador said.

(Reporting by Raul Cortes Fernandez; Writing by Valentine Hilaire; Editing by Anthony Esposito and Angus MacSwan)

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