The Sydney Peace Foundation has slammed its government for “demonising” Queensland-born WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and given him its highest award.
The foundation presented Assange a gold medal in recognition of his “exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights” at a ceremony in London.
According to AP, it is only the fourth time in the organisation’s 14-year history that the prize for extraordinary achievement in promoting peace with justice has been given out.
Other winners have been Nelson Mandela, the Dalai Lama and Japanese Buddhist leader Daisaku Ikeda.
Of course it is the first time the award has been given to someone who is trying to avoid a charge of being a sex pest by hiding in the UK rather than face the music.
Foundation Professor Stuart Rees said the award was to honour Mr Assange’s work in challenging official secrecy.
He said the Australian government had demonised Assange and was aiding US efforts to behave like a totalitarian state.
In a press release Rees said that 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.
The federal government has previously said the release by WikiLeaks of thousands of diplomatic cables and previously classified military documents may have been criminal, but later backed down and forgot to press charges against Assange.
Bradley Manning, the US Army private who gave the information to WikiLeaks and is in jail awaiting trial on about two dozen charges, including aiding the enemy has not been awarded anything. We tell a lie, he was allowed to wear clothes after there was an inquiry into his treatment by the House Elf committee headed by Harry Potter.
Assange said that the real value of this award, is that it makes explicit the link between peace and justice.
“It does not take the safe, feel-good option of shunning controversy by uttering platitudes,” he said without much of a trace of irony.
Of course justice is precisely what the two women who complained he sexually assaulted them are getting at the moment. Neither is Manning, who seems to have done all the hard stuff while Assange is remanded to an English Stately Home and collects awards for his valour.