13 October 2022, 12:40 BST
Today Julian Assange has been selected as one of three finalists for the prestigious Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, awarded each year by the European Union Parliament. The Sakharov Prize is an honorary prize awarded to an individual or group who has dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights. The winner will be announced on October 19th. Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange will address the EU parliamentary plenary next week ahead of the final decision.
Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange said: “Julian has been imprisoned for almost four years in Britain’s harshest prison for his important work to end impunity for war crimes and bring about greater accountability by informing the public about the human cost of war. He faces 175 years if he is extradited for his publishing work. Julian’s work embodies the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights and he is paying for it with his freedom. This cannot be allowed to continue or he will pay with his life. Upholding the Charter means taking a stand for Julian’s freedom. I am profoundly grateful to all the MEPs who have put Julian’s name forward and especially Sabrina Pignedoli who has spearheaded this initiative.”
The Sakharov Prize was awarded for the first time in 1988. The prize has been awarded to imprisoned political figures in the past, including Nelson Mandela in 1988 and Alexei Navalny in 2021.
More than 40 MEPs nominated Julian Assange for this year’s Sakharov Prize long list. Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange addressed a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, October 11th, in which she made the case for Julian Assange winning the award.
Stella Assange will return to Brussels next week to address the EU Parliament plenary before the final decision is taken (details TBC).
The winner will be announced on October 19, an award ceremony will be held in Strasbourg on December 14.
Amnesty International’s Europe Director, Nils Muižnieks, has said in relation to the extradition case against Julian Assange:
“President Biden should take the opportunity to drop these politically motivated charges which have put media freedom and freedom of expression in the dock.
“President Obama opened the investigation into Julian Assange. President Trump brought the charges against him. It is now time for President Biden to do the right thing and help end this farcical prosecution which should never have been brought in the first place.”
More Details on the Sakharov Prize
Julian Assange’s wife Stella Assange speaks at the European Parliament on 12 October
Julian Assange and Volodymyr Zelensky are nominated for prestigious EU Freedom of Thought award | Daily Mail
Last Saturday thousands of protesters gathered at the UK parliament and formed a human chain around the perimeter in a show of solidarity to the publisher
Earlier this week Julian Assange was confirmed to have contracted Covid-19 and is being held in 24 hour solitary confinement in London’s Belmarsh prison where he has been held since 2019
Julian Assange faces a 175 year sentence if extradited to the US for his publishing work. All major free speech and human rights organizations including Amnesty, Reporters Without Borders, National Union of Journalists, Big Brother Watch and many more oppose his extradition which they say is a ‘threat to press freedom around the globe’.
Amnesty International: “Were Julian Assange to be extradited or subjected to any other transfer to the USA, Britain would be in breach of its obligations under international human rights law”