Mexico Offers Political Asylum To WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange After UK Court Blocks His Extradition To US

Mexico Offers Political Asylum To WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange After UK Court Blocks His Extradition To USJulian Assange (Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has offered political asylum to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, after a UK court blocked the latter's extradition to the US, citing concerns over his "mental health and "risk of suicide".

Addressing a press conference on Monday (4 January), the President said he will ask the Foreign Affairs Ministry to contact British officials over the asylum offer and request that Assange be pardoned, reports Xinhua news agency.

"It is a triumph of justice. I commend England's action because Assange is a journalist and deserves a chance," Lopez Obrador told reporters, referring to the ruling.

"We will give him protection, we will take that step," the President added.

The 49-year-old, who spent almost seven years in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, faces an 18-count indictment from US authorities accusing him of recruiting hackers to steal military secrets.

Following Monday's order, Assange was taken back to the Belmarsh Prison, where he is being held and a full application for his bail will be made on Wednesday.

In the ruling, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser said that while US prosecutors met the tests for Assange to be extradited for trial, the US was incapable of preventing him from attempting to take his own life.

She outlined evidence of his self harm and suicidal thoughts and said: "The overall impression is of a depressed and sometimes despairing man fearful for his future," the BBC reported

The US authorities have 14 days to lodge an appeal and are expected to do so.

Assange faces an 18-count indictment from the US government, accusing him of conspiring to hack into US military databases to acquire sensitive secret information relating to the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which was then published on the Wikileaks website.

According to him, the information exposed abuses by the US military.

Assange was jailed for 50 weeks in May 2019 for breaching his bail conditions after going into hiding in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

He sought refuge in the embassy for seven years from 2012 until he was arrested in April 2019.

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)