Sydney Peace Medal awarded to WikiLeaks founder

9 May 2011

The Sydney Peace Foundation has awarded WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange its gold medal for “exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights.”

According to the foundation, the award was given to recognise the need for greater transparency and accountability for governments.

“By challenging centuries-old practices of government secrecy and by championing people’s right to know, WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have created the potential for a new order in journalism and in the free flow of information,” said Prof Stuart Rees, director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and founding director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

“Instead of demonising an Australian citizen who has broken no law, the Australian Government must stop shoring up Washington’s efforts to behave like a totalitarian state.

“The treatment of alleged whistleblower Bradley Manning confirms a US administration at odds with their commitment to universal human rights and intent on militaristic bullying,” he said, referring to the intelligence analyst with the US Army in Baghdad who was detained for allegedly giving classified data to WikiLeaks.

Assange, born in Australia, founded WikiLeaks and has since drawn massive controversy globally for leaking cables from US diplomats and the US military, posting a huge amount of confidential data on the web.

Assange is currently awaiting an appeal in London against his extradition to Sweden on allegations of sexual assault filed by two women last year.