The founder of Wikileaks, Julian Assange, has been awarded the Sydney Peace Foundation's gold medal for his "exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights".
Assange received the gold medal in London on 10 May. Previous recipients of the medal include the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela.
“For 14 years we’ve awarded the Sydney Peace Prize, but only on three occasions in 14 years have made an exception to the rule and awarded a gold medal for ‘exceptional courage in pursuit of human rights,'” Sydney Peace Foundation director, Stuart Rees, said at the event according to a report from London's Frontline Club.
"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," Rees said in a statement issued by the foundation.
"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."
The Wikileaks founder is fighting extradition to Sweden over alleged sex crimes. Last week Assange described social networking site Facebook as the "most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented".
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