Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador
Mexico's President Lopez Obrador attends a press conference, in Mexico City Reuters

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador lauded the release of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, saying the Statue of Liberty in New York does not remain "an empty symbol."

During a press conference held in Mexico, Obrador thanked the governments and family members who helped get the WikiLeaks founder out of the British high-security prison after reaching an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice.

"We are very happy for Julian's release from prison, it was a very unfair thing, it was like having freedom in prison and especially freedom of expression," Obrador said, La Opinion reported.

He added, "Now, also as I put it on Face, the Statue of Liberty that the French delivered at the time to the government and people of the United States is happy. This statue that is in New York, the Statue of Liberty."

Felicitamos a Julian Assange por conseguir su libertad. También nos congratulamos con todas las personas participantes en la campaña que demandaba la...

The president further said that he always thought that the Statue of Liberty was becoming "an empty symbol, but now I see that she is even happy... She is very happy!"

The Mexican president went on to read the letters he sent to the U.S. -- including former president Donald Trump and current president Joe Biden -- asking to release Assange.

One of the letters of Dec. 23, 2020, addressed to then President Trump, said, "In recent hours I have learned that you, following a noble institutional tradition of your country, have shown benevolence by granting pardon to several people and I consider it appropriate to ask you to extend it to Mr. Assange and grant him a pardon so that he can be released."

"If you agree to my request, the Mexican government is willing to offer the necessary facilities for Mr. Assange to travel immediately to my country, where he would be received as an asylum seeker."

Obrador also noted that the letter was received by Trump, but others close to him suggested that it was not convenient because there was a lot of pressure within the United States.

He further said that another letter was sent to Biden on Jan. 9 last year, asking him to use his powers and moral authority to request the United States Attorney General Merrick Garland to review the legality of the accusations as well as the request for Assange's extradition.

Sweden issued an arrest warrant for Assange over two sexual assault allegations in 2010. After a United Kingdom court ruled he could be extradited to Sweden, Assange sought asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London and was granted protection.

He stayed in the embassy for nearly seven years. Sweden dropped their charges in 2017, but Assange still faced arrest in the U.K. for skipping bail.

Ecuador revoked his asylum in 2019 and the U.K. police arrested him in the embassy. For the past five years, Assange was held in a high-security prison in South London.

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