Mexico is willing to take in "the best journalist of our time" Julian Assange if the United States were to release him, Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador said on Tuesday.
Obrador's comments come after the UK's Home Secretary Priti Patel signed an extradition order on June 17, sending the WikiLeaks founder back to the United States where he is wanted for publishing thousands of classified and sensitive documents.
Assange faces up to 175 years behind bars if convicted.
Lopez Obrador told reporters that he will ask U.S. President Joe Biden to address Assange's case, saying Mexico would "open its doors to Assange" if he were released.
The Mexican president is set to meet his U.S. counterpart in July.
Lopez Obrador praised Assange on Tuesday, calling him "the best journalist of our time in the world" and stating that "he has been treated very unfairly, worse than a criminal."
"This is a shame for the world," Lopez Obrador said. "I'm going to ask President Biden to address this issue … humanism must prevail."
U.S. prosecutors have indicted Assange on 18 criminal charges of breaking an espionage law and conspiring to hack government computers after WikiLeaks published a U.S. military video in 2010 showing a 2007 attack by Apache helicopters in Baghdad that killed multiple civilians, including two Reuters news staff. It then released thousands of secret classified files and diplomatic cables.
Washington says the leaks put lives in danger.
Supporters of Assange have branded him an anti-establishment hero who has been targeted by the United States for exposing wrongdoings in a string of conflicts across the globe. They also believe his prosecution is an attack on journalism and free speech.
Assange sought refuge inside Ecuador’s London Embassy from 2012 until he was arrested in April 2019 for skipping bail during a separate legal battle.
He is being held in London’s high-security Belmarsh Prison and has argued that he won’t get a fair trial in the United States.
"I am not going to the Summit because not all the countries of the Americas are invited," Obrador said in a statement. "I believe in the need to change the policy that has been imposed for centuries, exclusion, wanting to dominate for no reason, not respecting the sovereignty of countries … All countries, no matter how small, are free and independent."